Induction of locomotor-like EMG activity in paraplegic persons by orthotic gait training

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Abstract

This is, to our knowledge, the first report demonstrating the effects of orthotic gait training on the activity of the spinal locomotor neural networks. Three subjects with complete spinal cord injury (SCI) performed 1-h training with reciprocating gait orthosis 5 days/week for 12 weeks. The results showed that after 3 (n=1) or 6 weeks (n=2) of training, EMG activities synchronized with locomotor rhythm appeared in the soleus muscle (SOL) in all subjects, although very little EMG activity accompanied the orthotic gait at the early training stage. Our results suggest that the induced modulation in the SOL EMG waveforms might be attributable to changes in the orthotic gait movement pattern, and/or changes in the interneuronal activities of the spinal locomotor neural networks, as a result of orthotic gait training.

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