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Frontiers in Neurology



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Frontiers Media

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Lack of blood flow to the brain, i.e., ischemic stroke, results in loss of nerve cells and therefore loss of function in the effected brain regions. There is no effective treatment to improve lost function except restoring blood flow within the first several hours. Rehabilitation strategies are widely used with limited success. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of electrical stimulation on the impaired upper extremity to improve functional recovery after stroke. We developed a rodent model using an electrode cuff implant onto a single peripheral nerve (median nerve) of the paretic forelimb and applied daily electrical stimulation. The skilled forelimb reaching test was used to evaluate functional outcome after stroke and electrical stimulation. Anterograde axonal tracing from layer V pyramidal neurons with biotinylated dextran amine was done to evaluate the formation of new neuronal connections from the contralesional cortex to the deafferented spinal cord. Rats receiving electrical stimulation on the median nerve showed significant improvement in the skilled forelimb reaching test in comparison with stroke only and stroke with sham stimulation. Rats that received electrical stimulation also exhibited significant improvement in the latency to initiate adhesive removal from the impaired forelimb, indicating better sensory recovery. Furthermore, axonal tracing analysis showed a significant higher midline fiber crossing index in the cervical spinal cord of rats receiving electrical stimulation. Our results indicate that direct peripheral nerve stimulation leads to improved sensorimotor recovery in the stroke-impaired forelimb, and may be a useful approach to improve post-stroke deficits in human patients.


Author Posting © The Authors, 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. The article was published in Frontiers in Neurology, Volume 12, April 2021,

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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