Is the Frequency in Somatosensory Electrical Stimulation the Key Parameter in Modulating the Corticospinal Excitability of Healthy Volunteers and Stroke Patients with Spasticity?

Marco A. C. Garcia, João M. Y. Catunda, Marcio N. de Souza, Ana Paula Fontana, Sandro Sperandei, Claudia D. Vargas

Somatosensory electrical stimulation (SES) has been proposed as an approach to treat patients with sensory-motor impairment such as spasticity. However, there is still no consensus regarding which would be the adequate SES parameters to treat those deficits. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of applying SES over the forearm muscles at four different frequencies of stimulation (3, 30, 150, and 300 Hz) and in two intervals of time (5′ and 30′) by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation and Hoffmann’s reflex (H-reflex) in healthy volunteers (Experiments  I and II). A group of stroke patients (Experiment  III) was also preliminary evaluated to ascertain SES effects at a low frequency (3 Hz) applied for 30′ over the forearm spastic flexors muscles by measuring the wrist joint passive torque. Motor evoked potentials and the H-reflex were collected from different forearm and hand muscles immediately before and after SES and up to 5′ (Experiment  I) and 10′ (Experiments  I and II) later. None of the investigated frequencies of SES was able to operate as a key in switching modulatory effects in the central nervous system of healthy volunteers and stroke patients with spasticity.

The whole paper is available here.

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