A treatment combining transcranial magnetic stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation may have the potential to spur movement in paralyzed muscles.

The study was conducted by Anastasia Shulga, a medical doctor specializing in neurology, at the BioMag laboratory at the Helsinki University Hospital on two patients with spinal cord injuries. One patient was paraplegic, paralyzed from the knees down; and the other was tetraplegic, with some voluntary movement of the hands but no capacity to grasp.

Both patients were injured 2 years ago and had been receiving conventional rehabilitation treatments ever since, even during the stimulation treatment.

The stimulation treatment on both patients was given repeatedly for nearly 6 months, according to a media release from the University of Helsinki.

After 6 months, the paraplegic patient was able to bend both ankles, and the tetraplegic patient was able to grasp an object. The restored movement was still present a month after the stimulation treatment ended, per the release.

“We observed strengthened neural connections and partial restoration of movement to muscles which the patients were previously entirely unable to use,” Shulga says in the release.

“This is a case study with two patients only, but we think the results are promising,” states Jyrki Mäkelä, head of the BioMag laboratory, in the release. “Further study is needed to confirm whether long-term paired associative stimulation can be used in rehabilitation after spinal cord injury by itself and, possibly, in combination with other therapeutic strategies.”

The study was published recently in Spinal Cord Series and Cases.

[Source(s): University of Helsinki, Science Daily]