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Electromyographic changes observed after combined treatment: autologous stem cell implant and intensive rehabilitation in patients with complete, chronic spinal cord injury

      Background: Eight traumatic chronic spinal cord injury patients (ASIA A/Frankel A) received a combined treatment (cell therapy: endovascular implant with fat-derived autologous stem cells differentiated in-vitro from neural stem cells, and intensive, multidisciplinary rehabilitation), intending to recover the nervous functions lost due to the lesion. Electromyography was used as an objective method to assess the recovery of muscle electrical activity.
      Objetive: Demonstrate through electromyography the recovery of muscles innervated by spinal roots below the lesion level.
      Patients and methods: In June 2013, 8 patients with traumatic cSCI (ASIA A/Frankel A) 3/8 quadriplegic and 5/8 paraplegic began a combined treatment with cell therapy and rehabilitation. Before starting the treatment, none of them showed electrical activity in muscle groups innervated by nerve roots located 2 spinal levels below the lesion. Electromyography of the affected muscles was performed at 6, 12, and 24 months.
      Results: After 24 months of treatment, the following changes were observed in 5/8 patients: onset of the response of motor unit potentials in muscles without previous electrical activity; a progressive increase in the voltage of motor unit potentials in the muscles explored and giant potentials (spinal potentials).
      Conclusion: We confirmed the recovery of electrical activity in muscle groups affected by the lesion in patients with severe spinal cord injuries who received treatment. Electromyography is a sensitive and objective assessment method.