Electrical Nerve Stimulation Can Reverse Spinal Cord Injury Nerve Damage

A new study in Journal of Neurophysiology reports that maintenance of peripheral nerve function in the early phases of spinal cord injury (SCI) may improve long-term rehabilitation outcomes and the responsiveness of motor axons to the future regenerative therapies.

The accumulating evidence that SCI related accidents are being managed through better emergency care and therapy, but researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia, University of Sydney have discovered that by using the short-term peripheral nerve stimulation therapy, SCI-associated nerve deterioration, potentially improving the benefits of current and advancing of rehabilitation treatments. According to the author Michael Lee of Neuroscience Research Australia, University of Sydney, the data from the current study support the view that a SCI has a profound downstream effect on the peripheral nervous system below the level of injury, therefore, rehabilitation efforts must take that into account.

An intensive six-week peripheral nerve stimulation program was done for patients with SCI on one limb, while the other limb remained untreated. All subjects started the therapy within six months of injury. “The present study has clearly demonstrated that an intensive six-week peripheral nerve stimulation program was beneficial in improving nerve excitability parameters toward the normal range,” the researchers wrote. Moreover, the improvements stayed if the patient continued with the stimulation therapy, the researchers said.

“Therapies that help to maintain peripheral nerve function, such as the peripheral nerve stimulation paradigm used in the current study, need to be incorporated into the mainstream neuro-rehabilitation program in the early phases of SCI,” Lee added.

Source: http://jn.physiology.org/content/jn/113/9/3209