Background: In a recent high-profile case study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor improvements in motor function related to neuroplasticity following rehabilitation for severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The findings demonstrated that motor function improvements can occur years beyond current established limits. The current study extends the functional imaging investigation to characterize neuromodulation effects on neuroplasticity to further push the limits.
Methods: Canadian Soldier Captain (retired) Trevor Greene (TG) survived a severe open-TBI when attacked with an axe during a 2006 combat tour in Afghanistan. TG has since continued intensive daily rehabilitation to recover motor function, experiencing an extended plateau using conventional physical therapy. To overcome this plateau, we paired translingual neurostimulation (TLNS) with the continuing rehabilitation program.
Results: Combining TLNS with rehabilitation resulted in demonstrable clinical improvements along with corresponding changes in movement evoked electro-encephalography (EEG) activity. High-density magneto-encephalography (MEG) characterized cortical activation changes in corresponding beta frequency range (27Hz). MEG activation changes corresponded with reduced interhemispheric inhibition in the post-central gyri regions together with increased right superior/middle frontal activation suggesting large scale network level changes.
Conclusions: The findings provide valuable insight into the potential importance of non-invasive neuromodulation to enhance neuroplasticity mechanisms for recovery beyond the perceived limits of rehabilitation.