Preserved motor-evoked potentials but without good motor recovery in a patient with decerebrate rigidity

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Abstract

The corticospinal tract is not incriminated in decerebrate rigidity (DR). However, this has not yet been proven in humans. We applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in a decerebrate patient to support the hypothesis. A patient suffering from pontine hemorrhage with the fourth ventricular extension was admitted unconscious and in a decerebrate posture. Five days later, she regained consciousness but remained in a decerebrate posture. Motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) to TMS were measured 1 week after she had regained consciousness, and this provoked muscle responses in her hands and feet bilaterally. During the follow-up, the patient's muscle tone became persistently flaccid, although her strength increased to varying degrees in different body and limb muscles. She remained bedridden for 3 years after the stroke and could neither turn on the bed by herself nor perform skilled movements using her hands. The findings of TMS confirmed the animal studies in that the mechanism of decerebrate rigidity did not come through a damage of the corticospinal pathway. This also implies that a preserved corticospinal tract function cannot guarantee a good motor recovery in a stroke patient. © 2011.

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Kao, C. D., Lin, K. P., Chen, J. T., Chang, J. B., Guo, W. Y., Lin, Y. Y., & Liao, K. K. (2011). Preserved motor-evoked potentials but without good motor recovery in a patient with decerebrate rigidity. Journal of the Chinese Medical Association, 74(1), 37–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcma.2011.01.005

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