Neuroplasticity at the site of injury post SCI can mediate functional recovery (Kakulas 2004). Motor imagery (MI) can stimulate activity-dependent neuroplasticity (Grangeon et al., 2012). Specifically, MI has been shown to stimulate cerebral reorganization and improve motor functioning in patients with stroke and Parkinson’s disease (Page et al., 2009; Sun et al., 2013). Two studies authored by one group of researchers tested the use of MI in improving motor learning post SCI.
Table 5: Restorative Strategies
Di Rienzo et al. (2014b, 2015) conducted two small studies and applied the same methodology involving SCI participants receiving MI and traditional physiotherapy compared to healthy controls performing physical practice. These studies resulted in mixed findings, however, SCI participants’ movement time and variability generally improved after MI.
There is level 4 evidence (from two pre-post studies; Di Rienzo et al., 2014b, 2015) that MI treatment incorporated into physiotherapy for individuals with SCI may help to improve prehensile tenodesis performance.
Intrathecal baclofen may be an effective intervention for upper extremity
hypertonia of spinal cord origin.