Since 2014, our research group at the Helsinki University Hospital has been dedicated to the development of a new treatment for the rehabilitation of spinal-cord injury (SCI) patients. We combine transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive method which has already been approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain and major depressive disorder, among other, with simultaneous non-invasive peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS). This combination creates paired associative stimulation or PAS: a process which helps the nervous system to modify itself. This ability to adapt to changes in strength and frequency of presented stimuli, is what neuroscientists call plasticity.
We have found that with optimization of the PAS protocol and repetition over a longer period (4 weeks or more), certain patients can regain partial movement of muscles which were previously immobile, or achieve better function in previously weak muscles. Our research aims to discover the benefits and limitations of PAS and its effects on different types of SCI by recruiting suitable patients and healthy subjects for clinical studies and basic research.
from Tolmacheva et al 2019