Upper extremity neuromuscular electrical stimulation (FNS) has long been utilized as a neuroprosthesis to restore hand-grasp function in individuals with neurological disorders and injuries. More recently, electrical stimulation is being used as a rehabilitative therapy to tap into central nervous system plasticity. Here, we present initial development of a rodent model for neuromuscular stimulation induced forelimb movement that can be used as a platform to investigate stimulation-induced plasticity. The motor points for flexors and extensors of the shoulder, elbow, and digits were identified and implanted with custom-built stimulation electrodes. The strength-duration curves were determined and from these curves the appropriate stimulation parameters required to produce consistent isolated contraction of each muscle with adequate joint movement were determined. Using these parameters and previous locomotor EMG data, stimulation was performed on each joint muscle pair to produce reciprocal flexion/extension movements in the shoulder, elbow, and digits, while 3D joint kinematics were assessed. Additionally, co-stimulation of multiple muscles across multiple forelimb joints was performed to produce stable multi-joint movements similar to those observed during reach-grasp-release movements. Future work will utilize this model to investigate the efficacy and underlying mechanisms of forelimb neuromuscular stimulation therapy to promote recovery and plasticity after neural injury in rodents.
- Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
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