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Baker SN, Perez MA (2017) Reticulospinal contributions to gross hand function after human spinal cord injury. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(40):9778-9784    
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It has been long proposed that brainstem pathways contribute to the recovery of hand function in humans with spinal cord injury (SCI). Here, we show that individuals with anatomically incomplete chronic cervical SCI responded to a startle stimulus, a test that engages the reticulospinal tract, while performing a power grip but not during index finger abduction or precision grip. Control subjects responded to a startle stimulus similarly across tasks. These observations suggest that reticulospinal outputs after SCI contribute to hand motor tasks involving gross finger movements. Interestingly, this contribution is less pronounced during fine dexterous finger movements
Abstract
Multiple descending motor pathways likely contribute to the recovery of hand motor function following spinal cord injury (SCI). Reticulospinal neurons project to spinal motor neurons controlling hand muscles and extensively sprout into gray matter structures after SCI; therefore, it has been proposed that the reticulospinal tract is one of the descending motor pathways involved in recovery of hand function after injury. To test this hypothesis, we examined the StartReact response, an involuntary release of a planned movement via a startling stimulus that engages the reticulospinal tract, by measuring reaction times from electromyographic activity in an intrinsic finger muscle during three motor tasks requiring different degrees of hand dexterity: index finger abduction, a precision grip, and a power grip. Males and females with and without incomplete chronic cervical SCI were tested. We found that although SCI participants voluntarily responded to all tasks, reaction times were shorter during a startle cue while performing a power grip but not index finger abduction or precision grip. Control subjects had similarly shorter reaction times during a startle cue in all motor tasks. These results provide the first evidence for a contribution of the reticulospinal tract to hand control in humans with SCI during gross finger manipulations and suggest that this contribution is less pronounced during fine dexterous finger movements