A putative spinal circuit with convergent inputs facilitating human wrist flexors has been recently described. This study investigated how central nervous system lesions may affect this pathway. We measured the flexor carpi radialis H-reflex conditioned with stimulation above motor threshold to the extensor carpi radialis at different intervals in fifteen patients with stroke and nine with spinal cord injury. Measurements after stroke revealed a prolonged facilitation of the H-reflex, which replaced the later suppression seen in healthy subjects at longer intervals (30–60 ms). Measurements in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury at cervical level revealed heterogeneous responses. Results from patients with stroke could represent either an excessive facilitation or a loss of inhibition, which may reflect the development of spasticity. Spinal cord injury results possibly reflect damage to the segmental interneuron pathways. We report a straightforward method to assess changes to spinal circuits controlling wrist flexors after central nervous system lesion.
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