Repetetive hindlimb movement using intermittent adaptive neuromuscular electrical stimulation in an incomplete spinal cord injury rodent model

Mallika D. Fairchild, Seung Jae Kim, Alex Iarkov, James Abbas, Ranu Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The long-term objective of this work is to understand the mechanisms by which electrical stimulation based movement therapies may harness neural plasticity to accelerate and enhance sensorimotor recovery after incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI). An adaptive neuromuscular electrical stimulation (aNMES) paradigm was implemented in adult Long Evans rats with thoracic contusion injury (T8 vertebral level, 155 ± 2 Kdyne). In lengthy sessions with lightly anesthetized animals, hip flexor and extensor muscles were stimulated using an aNMES control system in order to generate desired hip movements. The aNMES control system, which used a pattern generator/pattern shaper structure, adjusted pulse amplitude to modulate muscle force in order to control hip movement. An intermittent stimulation paradigm was used (5-cycles/set; 20-second rest between sets; 100 sets). In each cycle, hip rotation caused the foot plantar surface to contact a stationary brush for appropriately timed cutaneous input. Sessions were repeated over several days while the animals recovered from injury. Results indicated that aNMES automatically and reliably tracked the desired hip trajectory with low error and maintained range of motion with only gradual increase in stimulation during the long sessions. Intermittent aNMES thus accounted for the numerous factors that can influence the response to NMES: electrode stability, excitability of spinal neural circuitry, non-linear muscle recruitment, fatigue, spinal reflexes due to cutaneous input, and the endogenous recovery of the animals. This novel aNMES application in the iSCI rodent model can thus be used in chronic stimulation studies to investigate the mechanisms of neuroplasticity targeted by NMES-based repetitive movement therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-633
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Adaptive control
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
  • Plasticity
  • Rat
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal contusion
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Repetetive hindlimb movement using intermittent adaptive neuromuscular electrical stimulation in an incomplete spinal cord injury rodent model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this