Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been widely utilized in post-stroke motor restoration. However, its impact on the closed-loop sensorimotor control process remains largely unclear. This is the first study to investigate the directional changes in cortico-muscular interactions after repetitive rehabilitation training by measuring the noninvasive electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) signals. In this study, 10 subjects with chronic stroke received 20 sessions of NMES-pedaling interventions, and each training session included three 10-min NMES-driven pedaling trials. In addition, pre- and post-intervention assessments of lower limb isometric contraction were conducted before and after the whole NMES-pedaling interventions. The EEG (128 channels) and EMG (3 bilateral lower limb sensors) signals were collected during the isometric contraction tasks for the paretic and non-paretic lower limbs. Both the cortico-muscular coherence (CMC) and generalized partial directed coherence (GPDC) values were analyzed between eight selected EEG channels in the central primary motor cortex and EMG channels. The results revealed significant clinical improvements. Additionally, rehabilitation training facilitated cortico-muscular interaction of the ipsilesional brain and paretic lower limbs (p = 0.004). Moreover, both the descending and ascending cortico-muscular pathways were altered after NMES-training (p = 0.001, p < 0.001). Therefore, the results implied potential applications of EEG-EMG in understanding neuromuscular changes during the post-stroke motor rehabilitation process.
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