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Motor Point Topography of Fundamental Grip Actuators in Tetraplegia: Implications in Nerve Transfer Surgery

Journal article
Authors Ines Bersch
S. Koch-Borner
Jan Fridén
Published in Journal of Neurotrauma
ISSN 0897-7151
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Orthopaedics
Language en
Keywords electrical stimulation, grip function, motor point topography, nerve transfer, tetraplegia, functional electrical-stimulation, spinal-cord-injury, massed practice, metabolic properties, regeneration, muscle, restoration, individuals, contractile, denervation, General & Internal Medicine
Subject categories Neurology


The differentiation between an upper motoneuron (UMN) lesion and lower motoneuron (LMN) lesion of forearm muscles in patients with tetraplegia is critical for the choice of treatment strategy. Specifically, the M. pronator teres (PT), M. flexor digitorum profundus III (FDPIII), and M. flexor pollicis longus (FPL) were studied since they represent key targets in nerve transfer surgery to restore grasp function. Forearm muscles of 24 patients with tetraplegia were tested bilaterally with electrical stimulation (ES) to determine whether UMN or LMN lesion was present. For detecting and testing the nerve stimulation points, a standardized mapping was developed and clinically applied. The relationship between the anatomical segmental spinal innervation and the innervation pattern tested by ES was determined. The data of 44 arms were analyzed. For PT, 19 arms showed an intact UMN, 18 arms an UMN lesion, and seven arms partial denervation. For FDPIII, three arms demonstrated an intact UMN, 26 arms an UMN lesion, 10 arms partial denervation, and five arms denervation. For FPL, two arms presented an intact UMN, 16 arms an UMN lesion, 12 arms partial denervation, and 14 arms denervation. A total of 20.1% ES tested muscles were partially denervated. In four patients, only one arm could be tested because of surgery-related limitations. According to the level of lesion and the segmental spinal innervation, most denervated muscles were present in the patient group C6 to C8. The ES, together with the developed mapping system, is reliable and can be recommended for standardized testing in surgery and rehabilitation. It offers the possibility to detect if and to what extent UMN and LMN lesions are present for the target muscles. It allows for refined pre-operative diagnostics and prognostics in spinal cord injury neurotization surgery.

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