Duration and reliability of the silent period in individuals with spinal cord injury

Hannah J. Sfreddo, Jaclyn R. Wecht, Ola A. Alsalman, Yu Kuang Wu, Noam Y. Harel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Design: Prospective cohort study. Objectives: We aim to better understand the silent period (SP), an inhibitory counterpart to the well-known motor evoked potential (MEP) elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Setting: Veterans Affairs Hospital in New York. Methods: EMG responses were measured in the target abductor pollicis brevis at rest (TMS at 120% of resting motor threshold (RMT)) and during maximal effort (TMS at 110% of RMT). Participants with chronic cervical SCI (n = 9) and AB participants (n = 12) underwent between 3 and 7 sessions of testing on separate days. The primary outcomes were the magnitude and reliability of SP duration, resting and active MEP amplitudes, and RMT. Results: SCI participants showed significantly lower MEP amplitudes compared to AB participants. SCI SP duration was not significantly different from AB SP duration. SP duration demonstrated reduced intra-participant variability within and across sessions compared with MEP amplitudes. SCI participants also demonstrated a higher prevalence of SP ‘interruptions’ compared to AB participants. Conclusions: In a small group of individuals with chronic cervical SCI, we confirmed the well-known findings that SCI individuals have lower TMS evoked potential amplitudes and a tendency toward higher TMS motor thresholds relative to able-bodied controls. We did not observe a significant difference in SP duration between individuals with versus without SCI. However, SP duration is a more reliable outcome within and across multiple sessions than MEP amplitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-893
Number of pages9
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


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