Estimation of surface intramuscular coherence has been used to indirectly assess pyramidal tract activity following spinal cord injury (SCI), especially within the 15-30 Hz bandwidth. However, change in higher frequency (>40 Hz) muscle coherence during SCI has not been characterised. Thus, the objective of this study was to identify change of high and low frequency intramuscular Tibialis Anterior (TA) coherence during incomplete subacute SCI.
Fifteen healthy subjects and 22 subjects with motor incomplete SCI (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale, AIS, C or D grade) were recruited and tested during 4 sessions performed at 2-week intervals up to 8 months after SCI. Intramuscular TA coherence estimation was calculated within the 10-60 Hz bandwidth during controlled maximal isometric and isokinetic foot dorsiflexion. Maximal voluntary dorsiflexion torque, gait function measured with the WISCI II scale, and TA motor evoked potentials (MEP) were recorded.
During subacute SCI, significant improvement in total lower limb manual muscle score, TA muscle strength and gait function were observed. No change in TA MEP amplitude was identified. Significant increase in TA coherence was detected in the 40-60 Hz, but not the 15-30 Hz bandwidth. The spasticity syndrome was associated with lower 15-30 Hz TA coherence during maximal isometric dorsiflexion and higher 10-60 Hz coherence during fast isokinetic movement (p < 0.05).
Longitudinal estimation of neurophysiological and clinical measures during subacute SCI suggest that estimation of TA muscle coherence during controlled movement provides indirect information regarding adaptive and maladaptive motor control mechanisms during neurorehabilitation.