BACKGROUND: . The description of the natural course of recovery from a spinal cord injury (SCI) with spontaneous improvement of neurological, neurophysiological, and functional measures is an important prerequisite in appraising effects of upcoming interventional therapies.
OBJECTIVE: . To describe the spontaneous evolution of motor-evoked potentials of the anterior tibial muscle (TA-MEP) and their relation to outcomes of lower extremity motor scores (LEMS) and walking function in patients recovering from an acute SCI.
METHODS: . TA-MEPs were assessed in 255 SCI subjects within 5 time intervals throughout the first year after SCI with combined neurological and functional measures. Tibial nerve conduction studies were performed to screen for peripheral nerve damage.
RESULTS: . TA-MEP allowed stratification of SCI according to lesion severity and outcome. As MEP amplitudes increased over 12 months after SCI, this was paralleled by a significant improvement of LEMS and walking function. TA-MEP latencies remained usually stable.
CONCLUSION: . Clinical outcome and walking function after SCI can be predicted independent of clinical measures by assessment of TA-MEP reflecting corticospinal tract integrity.