Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Sridhar Sunderam


Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) is commonly used to promote use-dependent cortical plasticity for rehabilitation of motor function in spinal cord injury. Pairing transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with PNS has been shown to increase motor evoked potentials most when the two stimuli are timed to arrive in the cortex simultaneously. This suggests that a mechanism of timing-dependent plasticity (TDP) may be a more effective method of promoting motor rehabilitation. The following thesis is the result of applying a brain-computer interface to apply PNS in closed-loop simultaneously to movement intention onset as measured by EEG of the sensorimotor cortex to test whether TDP can be induced in incomplete spinal cord injured individuals with upper limb motor impairment. 4 motor incomplete SCI subjects have completed 12 sessions of closed-loop PNS delivered over 4-6 weeks. Benefit was observed for every subject although not consistently across metrics. 3 out of 4 subjects exhibited increased maximum voluntary contraction force (MVCF) between first and last interventions for one or both hands. TMS-measured motor map volume increased for both hemispheres in one subject, and TMS center of gravity shifted in 3 subjects consistent with studies in which motor function improved or was restored. These observations suggest that rehabilitation using similar designs for responsive stimulation could improve motor impairment in SCI.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)