Recovery of an injured corticofugal tract from the supplementary motor area in a patient with traumatic brain injury: A case report

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Rationale:We report on a patient with traumatic brain injury who showed motor recovery concurrent with recovery of injured corticofugal tracts (CFTs), diagnosed by diffusion tensor tractography (DTT).Patient concerns:Four weeks after onset, when the patient started rehabilitation, he showed severe weakness of both upper and lower extremities [Motricity Index (MI, full score: 100/100): 9/30].Diagnoses:A 29-year-old male patient underwent conservative management for traumatic hemorrhages in both frontal lobes and right thalamus resulting from a car accident.Interventions:The patient participated in a comprehensive rehabilitative management program, including movement therapy, dopaminergic drugs for improvement of apraxia (pramipexole: 2.5mg, amantadine: 300mg, ropinirole: 0.75 mg, and levodopa: 500mg), and neuromuscular electrical stimulation therapy of the right elbow extensors, finger extensors, both knee extensors, and ankle dorsiflexors.Outcomes:After 2 months’ intensive rehabilitation, his motor weakness rapidly recovered to the point that he was able to move all 4 extremities against some resistance (MI: 75/75). The right supplementary motor area (SMA)-CFT showed narrowing and partial tearing in the upper portion on 1-month DTT, and became thicker on 3-month DTT. Compared to the 12 normal control subjects, the fractional anisotropy (FA) values of the right corticospinal tract and both dorsal premotor cortex-CFT were more than 1 standard deviation lower than those of normal control subjects on both 1- and 3-month DTTs.Lessons:Although the tract volume of the right SMA-CFT was more than 1 standard deviation lower than normal control subjects on 1-month DTT, it increased to within 1 standard deviation on 3-month DTT. Recovery of the injured SMA-CFT concurrent with motor recovery was demonstrated in a patient with traumatic brain injury.

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