I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Apr 2023 - 28 Apr 2023


Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neuromodulation

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Musculoskeletal Pain

2023 Apr 12



Motor-targeted spinal stimulation promotes concurrent rebalancing of pathologic nociceptive transmission in chronic spinal cord injury.


Bandres MF, Gomes JL, McPherson JG


Electrical stimulation of spinal networks below a spinal cord injury (SCI) is a promising approach to restore functions compromised by inadequate excitatory neural drive. The most translationally successful examples are paradigms intended to increase neural transmission in weakened yet spared motor pathways and spinal motor networks rendered dormant after being severed from their inputs by lesion. Less well understood is whether spinal stimulation is also capable of reducing neural transmission in pathways made pathologically overactive by SCI. Debilitating spasms, spasticity, and neuropathic pain are all common manifestations of hyperexcitable spinal responses to sensory feedback. But whereas spasms and spasticity can often be managed pharmacologically, SCI-related neuropathic pain is notoriously medically refractory. Interestingly, however, spinal stimulation is a clinically available option for ameliorating neuropathic pain arising from etiologies other than SCI, and it has traditionally been assumed to modulate sensorimotor networks overlapping with those engaged by spinal stimulation for motor rehabilitation. Thus, we reasoned that spinal stimulation intended to increase transmission in motor pathways may simultaneously reduce transmission in spinal pain pathways. Using a well-validated pre-clinical model of SCI that results in severe bilateral motor impairments and SCI-related neuropathic pain, we show that the responsiveness of neurons integral to the development and persistence of the neuropathic pain state can be enduringly reduced by motor-targeted spinal stimulation while preserving spinal responses to non-pain-related sensory feedback. These results suggest that spinal stimulation paradigms could be intentionally designed to afford multi-modal therapeutic benefits, directly addressing the diverse, intersectional rehabilitation goals of people living with SCI.