Bilateral Assessment of the Corticospinal Pathways of the Ankle Muscles Using Navigated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

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Journal of Visualized Experiments: JoVE


Distal leg muscles receive neural input from motor cortical areas via the corticospinal tract, which is one of the main motor descending pathway in humans and can be assessed using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Given the role of distal leg muscles in upright postural and dynamic tasks, such as walking, a growing research interest in the assessment and modulation of the corticospinal tracts relative to the function of these muscles has emerged in the last decade. However, methodological parameters used in previous work have varied across studies making the interpretation of results from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies less robust. Therefore, use of a standardized TMS protocol specific to the assessment of leg muscles' corticomotor response (CMR) will allow for direct comparison of results across studies and cohorts. The objective of this paper is to present a protocol that provides the flexibility to simultaneously assess the bilateral CMR of two main ankle antagonistic muscles, the tibialis anterior and soleus, using single pulse TMS with a neuronavigation system. The present protocol is applicable while the examined muscle is either fully relaxed or isometrically contracted at a defined percentage of maximum isometric voluntary contraction. Using each subject's structural MRI with the neuronavigation system ensures accurate and precise positioning of the coil over the leg cortical representations during assessment. Given the inconsistency in CMR derived measures, this protocol also describes a standardized calculation of these measures using automated algorithms. Though this protocol is not conducted during upright postural or dynamic tasks, it can be used to assess bilaterally any pair of leg muscles, either antagonistic or synergistic, in both neurologically intact and impaired subjects.


Rehabilitation and Therapy



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