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Hotz-Boendermaker, S; Hepp-Reymond, M-C; Curt, A; Kollias, S S (2011). Movement observation activates lower limb motor networks in chronic complete paraplegia. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 25(5):469-476.

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Background. In healthy subjects, observation of actions activates a motor network similar to that involved in the performance of the observed actions. Movement observation could perhaps be applied to functionally sustain brain motor functions when efferent motor commands and proprioceptive feedbacks are disconnected. Objective. The authors examined whether observation-induced brain activation is preserved in people with chronic complete spinal cord injury (SCI). Methods. Nine patients and 12 healthy subjects underwent behavioral assessment and functional magnetic resonance imaging. The SCI patients attempted to perform dorsal and plantar flexions of the right foot, and the controls also executed the same movement. Both groups observed subsequent video clips showing the same movement. Results. In the SCI group, attempted and observed foot movements activated a common observation-execution network including ventral premotor, parietal cortex, and cerebellum as in healthy subjects. Conclusions. Long after onset of complete SCI, the brain maintains its ability to respond to task-specific visual inputs, which suggests preservation of motor programs. This persistence might be a prerequisite for repair strategies of the spinal cord that rely on appropriate activation of the brain to try to restore limb function. The preserved cortical network may offer an additional motor rehabilitation approach for people with SCI.


11 citations in Web of Science®
11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neuroradiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Spinal cord injury rehabilitation;fMRI;Mirror neurons;Action-observation;Motor imagery
Date:1 June 2011
Deposited On:08 Mar 2012 14:04
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:42
Publisher:Sage Publications
Series Name:Neurorehabilitation and neural repair
Number of Pages:7
Publisher DOI:10.1177/1545968310389184
PubMed ID:21343526

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