Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Spinal cord injury


Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) provide a new assistive strategy aimed at restoring mobility in severely paralyzed patients. Yet, no study in animals or in human subjects has indicated that long-term BMI training could induce any type of clinical recovery. Eight chronic (3-13 years) spinal cord injury (SCI) paraplegics were subjected to long-term training (12 months) with a multi-stage BMI-based gait neurorehabilitation paradigm aimed at restoring locomotion. This paradigm combined intense immersive virtual reality training, enriched visual-tactile feedback, and walking with two EEG-controlled robotic actuators, including a custom-designed lower limb exoskeleton capable of delivering tactile feedback to subjects. Following 12 months of training with this paradigm, all eight patients experienced neurological improvements in somatic sensation (pain localization, fine/crude touch, and proprioceptive sensing) in multiple dermatomes. Patients also regained voluntary motor control in key muscles below the SCI level, as measured by EMGs, resulting in marked improvement in their walking index. As a result, 50% of these patients were upgraded to an incomplete paraplegia classification. Neurological recovery was paralleled by the reemergence of lower limb motor imagery at cortical level. We hypothesize that this unprecedented neurological recovery results from both cortical and spinal cord plasticity triggered by long-term BMI usage.

Concepts: Spinal cord, Sensory system, Sense, Somatosensory system, Spinal cord injury, Virtual reality, Proprioception, Paraplegia


Direct brain control of overground walking in those with paraplegia due to spinal cord injury (SCI) has not been achieved. Invasive brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) may provide a permanent solution to this problem by directly linking the brain to lower extremity prostheses. To justify the pursuit of such invasive systems, the feasibility of BCI controlled overground walking should first be established in a noninvasive manner. To accomplish this goal, we developed an electroencephalogram (EEG)-based BCI to control a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system for overground walking and assessed its performance in an individual with paraplegia due to SCI.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Brain, Neuroscience, Cerebrospinal fluid, Spinal cord injury, Brain–computer interface, Neuroprosthetics, Brain-computer interfacing


Half of human spinal cord injuries lead to chronic paralysis. Here, we introduce an electrochemical neuroprosthesis and a robotic postural interface designed to encourage supraspinally mediated movements in rats with paralyzing lesions. Despite the interruption of direct supraspinal pathways, the cortex regained the capacity to transform contextual information into task-specific commands to execute refined locomotion. This recovery relied on the extensive remodeling of cortical projections, including the formation of brainstem and intraspinal relays that restored qualitative control over electrochemically enabled lumbosacral circuitries. Automated treadmill-restricted training, which did not engage cortical neurons, failed to promote translesional plasticity and recovery. By encouraging active participation under functional states, our training paradigm triggered a cortex-dependent recovery that may improve function after similar injuries in humans.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Spinal cord, Cerebral cortex, Spinal cord injury, Paralysis, Object-oriented programming


To investigate changes in body ownership and chronic neuropathic pain in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) using multisensory own body illusions and virtual reality (VR).

Concepts: Spinal cord injury, Virtual reality, Neuropathic pain


An estimated 1.1 million high school and 75,000 college athletes participate in tackle football annually in the United States. Football is a collision sport; traumatic injuries are frequent (1,2), and can be fatal (3). This report updates the incidence and characteristics of deaths caused by traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury (4) in high school and college football and presents illustrative case descriptions. Information was analyzed from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR). During 2005-2014, a total of 28 deaths (2.8 deaths per year) from traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries occurred among high school (24 deaths) and college football players (four deaths) combined. Most deaths occurred during competitions and resulted from tackling or being tackled. All four of the college deaths and 14 (58%) of the 24 high school deaths occurred during the last 5 years (2010-2014) of the 10-year study period. These findings support the need for continued surveillance and safety efforts (particularly during competition) to ensure proper tackling techniques, emergency planning for severe injuries, availability of medical care onsite during competitions, and assessment that it is safe to return to play following a concussion.

Concepts: United States, Traumatic brain injury, Injury, High school, Spinal cord injury, College, American football, Concussion


Spinal cord injury (SCI) at high spinal levels (e.g., above thoracic level 5) causes systemic immune suppression; however, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Here we show that profound plasticity develops within spinal autonomic circuitry below the injury, creating a sympathetic anti-inflammatory reflex, and that chemogenetic silencing of this reflex circuitry blocks post-SCI immune suppression. These data provide new insights and potential therapeutic options for limiting the devastating consequences of post-traumatic autonomic hyperreflexia and post-injury immune suppression.

Concepts: Immune system, Spinal cord injury


In this study we prospectively investigated the contribution of restored penile sensation to sexual health in patients with low spinal lesions.

Concepts: Spinal cord, Sexual intercourse, Spinal cord injury, Penis, Spina bifida, Sex education


Study design:Cross-sectional validation study.Objectives:To develop and validate a self-report version of the Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM III).Setting:Two SCI rehabilitation facilities in Switzerland.Methods:SCIM III comprises 19 questions on daily tasks with a total score between 0 and 100 and subscales for ‘self-care’, ‘respiration & sphincter management’ and ‘mobility’. A self-report version (SCIM-SR) was developed by expert discussions and pretests in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) using a German translation. A convenience sample of 99 inpatients with SCI was recruited. SCIM-SR data were analyzed together with SCIM III data obtained from attending health professionals.Results:High correlations between SCIM III and SCIM-SR were observed. Pearson’s r for the total score was 0.87 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.82-0.91), for the subscales self-care 0.87 (0.81-0.91); respiration & sphincter management 0.81 (0.73-0.87); and mobility 0.87 (0.82-0.91). Intraclass correlations were: total score 0.90 (95% CI 0.85-0.93); self-care 0.86 (0.79-0.90); respiration & sphincter management 0.80 (0.71-0.86); and mobility 0.83 (0.76-0.89). Bland-Altman plots showed that patients rated their functioning higher than professionals, in particular for mobility. The mean difference between SCIM-SR and SCIM III for the total score was 5.14 (point estimate 95% CI 2.95-7.34), self-care 0.89 (0.19-1.59), respiration & sphincter management 1.05 (0.18-2.28 ) and mobility 3.49 (2.44-4.54). Particularly patients readmitted because of pressure sores rated their independence higher than attending professionals.Conclusion:Our results support the criterion validity of SCIM-SR. The self-report version may facilitate long-term evaluations of independence in persons with SCI in their home situation.

Concepts: Statistics, Validation, Criterion validity, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, Spinal cord injury, Statistical inference, The Criterion, Interval estimation


A recent study shows that a spike-timing-dependent plasticity protocol can potentiate corticospinal transmission to finger muscle motoneurons, in both volunteers and in patients with incomplete spinal injury. In patients, the protocol improved voluntary muscle output and performance on a peg-board test.

Concepts: Spinal cord, Spinal cord injury, Corticospinal tract


Study design:Retrospective analysis.Objectives:To investigate the urodynamic effects of solifenacin treatment for neurogenic detrusor overactivity (NDO) in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI).Setting:Paraplegic center in Switzerland.Methods:Retrospective analysis of case histories and urodynamic data of 35 SCI patients receiving solifenacin for treatment of NDO between 2008 and 2012. Patients were categorized as being at risk of renal damage when maximum detrusor pressure was >40 cm H(2)O or detrusor compliance was <20 ml cm(-1) H(2)O.Results:Solifenacin treatment was initiated 7.3 years after SCI. Most patients (63%) had already been taking other antimuscarinic drugs. After 13.1 months (median, interquartile range 6.1-19.5 months), solifenacin treatment had resulted in significant (P<0.03) improvements in bladder capacity (median +30.0 ml), maximum detrusor pressure (median -7.0 cm H(2)O), reflex volume (median +62.5 ml) and detrusor compliance (median +25.0 ml cm(-1) H(2)O). Furthermore, fewer patients presented with a risk of renal damage. However, this difference was not significant (P>0.1). The number of patients suffering from incontinence had not changed significantly. Eight and two patients discontinued solifenacin treatment as a result of insufficient efficacy and intolerable adverse events, respectively. One patient had discontinued solifenacin treatment without further explanation.Conclusion:Solifenacin treatment significantly improved bladder capacity, detrusor compliance, reflex volume and maximum detrusor pressure. Solifenacin treatment seems to be an effective oral treatment of NDO after SCI.Spinal Cord advance online publication, 18 December 2012; doi:10.1038/sc.2012.164.

Concepts: Improve, Volume, Effectiveness, Urinary bladder, Interquartile range, Spinal cord injury, 2012, Result