Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a promising treatment for disorders of consciousness (DOC), but the underlying mechanism and most effective procedures remain uncertain. To optimize the protocol, previous studies evaluated the frequency-specific effects of SCS on neurophysiological activities. However, whether and how the inter-stimulus interval (ISI) parameter affects the SCS neuromodulation in DOC remains unknown. We enrolled nine DOC patients who had implanted SCS devices and conducted three different durations of ISIs. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), we monitored the blood volume fluctuations in the prefrontal and occipital cortices during the SCS. The results showed that short stimuli (30 s) induced significant cerebral blood volume changes, especially in the prefrontal cortex, an important area in the consciousness system. By comparing the mean value of the responses from the first and the last block in each session, a shorter ISI was found to improve the blood volume in the prefrontal cortex. This phenomenon was more significant for the subgroup of patients with a favorable prognosis. These preliminary results imply that the ISI may be an important factor for SCS. The research paradigm proposed here also provides insights for further quantitative evaluations of the therapeutic effects of neuromodulation.
Y., Z., Y., Y., J., S., X., X., J., H., & T., J. (2018). Influence of inter-stimulus interval of spinal cord stimulation in patients with disorders of consciousness: A preliminary functional near-infrared spectroscopy study. NeuroImage: Clinical, 17, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2017.09.017