The simultaneous stimulation of the motor nerves of the brain and limbs (paired associative stimulation) has yielded promising research results. Research conducted at the BioMag Laboratory, operated by the University of Helsinki, Helsinki University Hospital and Aalto University, has previously demonstrated that simultaneous transcranial magnetic stimulation of the brain and electrical stimulation of the limb nerves constitute a useful method of motor rehabilitation in patients suffering from spinal cord injuries.
Prior case studies have shown that synchronised stimulation of the brain and limb nerves strengthens neural connections and, thus, can restore patients’ mobility.
Now, researchers at the laboratory have, for the first time, looked into the potential of paired associative stimulation therapy in treating incomplete paraplegia, investigating how stimulation therapy can promote the recovery of walking ability when combined with walking rehabilitation.
The results of the recently completed case study have been published in the Spinal Cord Series and Cases journal.
“We demonstrate for the first time that paired associative stimulation helped a paraplegic patient walk and promoted his walking rehabilitation. Stimulation therapy has already previously been found to be a potential mode of treatment for spinal cord injuries. These findings spur us on to continue investigating paired associative stimulation,” says Anastasia Shulga, a neuroscientist and medical doctor from the University of Helsinki who headed the case study.