The relationship between maximum tolerance and motor activation during transcutaneous spinal stimulation is unaffected by the carrier frequency or vibration

Gerome A. Manson, Jonathan S. Calvert, Jeremiah Ling, Boranai Tychhon, Amir Ali, Dimitry G. Sayenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Transcutaneous spinal stimulation (TSS) is a useful tool to modulate spinal sensorimotor circuits and has emerged as a potential treatment for motor disorders in neurologically impaired populations. One major limitation of TSS is the discomfort associated with high levels of stimulation during the experimental procedure. The objective of this study was to examine if the discomfort caused by TSS can be alleviated using different stimulation paradigms in a neurologically intact population. Tolerance to TSS delivered using conventional biphasic balanced rectangular pulses was compared to two alternative stimulation paradigms: a 5 kHz carrier frequency and biphasic balanced rectangular pulses combined with vibrotactile stimulation. In ten healthy participants, tolerance to TSS was examined using both single-pulse (0.2 Hz) and continuous (30 Hz) stimulation protocols. In both the single-pulse and continuous stimulation protocols, participants tolerated significantly higher levels of stimulation with the carrier frequency paradigm compared to the other stimulation paradigms. However, when the maximum tolerable stimulation intensity of each stimulation paradigm was normalized to the intensity required to evoke a lower limb muscle response, there were no statistical differences between the stimulation paradigms. Our results suggest that, when considering the intensity of stimulation required to obtain spinally evoked motor potentials, neither alternative stimulation paradigm is more effective at reducing discomfort than the conventional, unmodulated pulse configuration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14397
JournalPhysiological Reports
Volume8
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Keywords

  • Russian current
  • carrier frequency
  • pain tolerance
  • transcutaneous spinal stimulation
  • vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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