To identify and synthesize the existing evidence on the effectiveness and safety of epidural spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for improving motor and voiding function and reducing spasticity following spinal cord injury (SCI).
This scoping review was performed according to the framework of Arksey and O’Malley. Comprehensive serial searches in multiple databases (MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, LILACS, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus) were performed to identify relevant publications that focused on epidural SCS for improving motor function, including spasticity, and voiding deficits in individuals with SCI.
Data from 13 case series including 88 individuals with complete or incomplete SCI (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale [AIS] grade A to D) were included. In 12 studies of individuals with SCI, the majority (83 out of 88) demonstrated a variable degree of improvement in volitional motor function with epidural SCS. Two studies, incorporating 27 participants, demonstrated a significant reduction in spasticity with SCS. Two small studies consisting of five and two participants, respectively, demonstrated improved supraspinal control of volitional micturition with SCS.
Epidural SCS can enhance central pattern generator activity and lower motor neuron excitability in individuals with SCI. The observed effects of epidural SCS following SCI suggest that the preservation of supraspinal transmission is sufficient for the recovery of volitional motor and voiding function, even in patients with complete SCI. Further research is warranted to evaluate and optimize the parameters for epidural SCS and their impact on individuals with differing degrees of severity of SCI.