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Regional estimates of cortical thickness in brain areas involved in control of surgically restored limb movement in patients with tetraplegia.

Journal article
Authors Lina Bunketorp Käll
Jan Fridén
Malin Björnsdotter
Published in The journal of spinal cord medicine
Pages 1-8
ISSN 2045-7723
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Pages 1-8
Language en
Subject categories Orthopedics, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging, Neurology


Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes atrophy of brain regions linked to motor function. We aimed to estimate cortical thickness in brain regions that control surgically restored limb movement in individuals with tetraplegia.Cross-sectional study.Sahlgrenska University hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.Six individuals with tetraplegia who had undergone surgical restoration of grip function by surgical transfer of one elbow flexor (brachioradialis), to the paralyzed thumb flexor (flexor pollicis longus). All subjects were males, with a SCI at the C6 or C7 level, and a mean age of 40 years (range = 31-48). The average number of years elapsed since the SCI was 13 (range = 6-26).We used structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to estimate the thickness of selected motor cortices and compared these measurements to those of six matched control subjects. The pinch grip control area was defined in a previous functional MRI study.Compared to controls, the cortical thickness in the functionally defined pinch grip control area was not significantly reduced (P = 0.591), and thickness showed a non-significant but positive correlation with years since surgery in the individuals with tetraplegia. In contrast, the anatomically defined primary motor cortex as a whole exhibited substantial atrophy (P = 0.013), with a weak negative correlation with years since surgery.Individuals with tetraplegia do not seem to have reduced cortical thickness in brain regions involved in control of surgically restored limb movement. However, the studied sample is very small and further studies with larger samples are required to establish these findings.

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