Chronic neuromuscular electrical stimulation of paralyzed hindlimbs in a rodent model

Ranu Jung, Kazuhiko Ichihara, Ganapriya Venkatasubramanian, James Abbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) can be used to activate paralyzed or paretic muscles to generate functional or therapeutic movements. The goal of this research was to develop a rodent model of NMES-assisted movement therapy after spinal cord injury (SCI) that will enable investigation of mechanisms of NMES-induced plasticity, from the molecular to systems level. Development of the model requires accurate mapping of electrode and muscle stimulation sites, the capability to selectively activate muscles to produce graded contractions of sufficient strength, stable anchoring of the implanted electrode within the muscles and stable performance with functional reliability over several weeks of the therapy window. Custom designed electrodes were implanted chronically in hindlimb muscles of spinal cord transected rats. Mechanical and electrical stability of electrodes and the ability to achieve appropriate muscle recruitment and joint angle excursion were assessed by characterizing the strength duration curves, isometric torque recruitment curves and kinematics of joint angle excursion over 6-8 weeks post implantation. Results indicate that the custom designed electrodes and implantation techniques provided sufficient anchoring and produced stable and reliable recruitment of muscles both in the absence of daily NMES (for 8 weeks) as well as with daily NMES that is initiated 3 weeks post implantation (for 6 weeks). The completed work establishes a rodent model that can be used to investigate mechanisms of neuroplasticity that underlie NMES-based movement therapy after spinal cord injury and to optimize the timing of its delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-254
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 15 2009


  • Movement therapy
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Neuroprostheses
  • Outcome measures
  • Rehabilitation
  • Traumatic spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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