Recovery of long-term denervated human muscles induced by electrical stimulation

Authors: Helmut Kern, MD 1, Stanley Salmons, MSc, PhD 2, Winfried Mayr, PhD 3, Katia Rossini, DBiol 4,
Ugo Carraro, MD 4

Source: Muscle & Nerve. 2006; 31: 98-101

Keywords: chronic denervation • electrical stimulation • human • muscle regeneration • paraplegia


We investigated the restorative potential of intensive electrical stimulation in a patient with long-standing quadriceps denervation. Stimulation started 18 months after injury. After 26 months, the thighs were visibly less wasted. Muscle cross-sectional areas, measured by computerized tomography, increased from 36.0 cm2 to 57.9 cm2 (right) and from 36.1 cm2 to 52.4 cm2 (left). Knee torque had become sufficient to maintain standing without upper extremity support. Biopsies revealed evidence of both growth and regeneration of myofibers. The results suggest that electrical stimulation may offer a route to the future development of mobility aids in patients with lower motor neuron lesions.


1 Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Electrostimulation and Physical Rehabilitation, Wilheminenspital Wien, A-1171 Vienna, Austria
2 Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
3 Department of Biomedical Engineering and Physics, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
4 C.N.R. Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

Funded by:

EU Commission Shared Cost Project RISE; Grant Number: QLG5-CT-2001-02191
C.N.R. Institute of Neuroscience, University of Padua, Italy