Intramuscular coherence during challenging walking in incomplete spinal cord injury: Reduced high-frequency coherence reflects impaired supra-spinal control

Freschta Zipser-Mohammadzada, Bernard A Conway, David M Halliday, Carl Moritz Zipser, Chris A Easthope, Armin Curt, Martin Schubert

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Individuals regaining reliable day-to-day walking function after incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI) report persisting unsteadiness when confronted with walking challenges. However, quantifiable measures of walking capacity lack the sensitivity to reveal underlying impairments of supra-spinal locomotor control. This study investigates the relationship between intramuscular coherence and corticospinal dynamic balance control during a visually guided Target walking treadmill task. In thirteen individuals with iSCI and 24 controls, intramuscular coherence and cumulant densities were estimated from pairs of Tibialis anterior surface EMG recordings during normal treadmill walking and a Target walking task. The approximate center of mass was calculated from pelvis markers. Spearman rank correlations were performed to evaluate the relationship between intramuscular coherence, clinical parameters, and center of mass parameters. In controls, we found that the Target walking task results in increased high-frequency (21-44 Hz) intramuscular coherence, which negatively related to changes in the center of mass movement, whereas this modulation was largely reduced in individuals with iSCI. The impaired modulation of high-frequency intramuscular coherence during the Target walking task correlated with neurophysiological and functional readouts, such as motor-evoked potential amplitude and outdoor mobility score, as well as center of mass trajectory length. The Target walking effect, the difference between Target and Normal walking intramuscular coherence, was significantly higher in controls than in individuals with iSCI [F(1.0,35.0) = 13.042, p < 0.001]. Intramuscular coherence obtained during challenging walking in individuals with iSCI may provide information on corticospinal gait control. The relationships between biomechanics, clinical scores, and neurophysiology suggest that intramuscular coherence assessed during challenging tasks may be meaningful for understanding impaired supra-spinal control in individuals with iSCI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number927704
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in human neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2022

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Copyright © 2022 Zipser-Mohammadzada, Conway, Halliday, Zipser, Easthope, Curt and Schubert.

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