(1) Background: Restoring arm and hand function is a priority for individuals with cervical spinal cord injury (cSCI) for independence and quality of life. Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) promotes the upper extremity (UE) motor function when applied at the cervical region. The aim of the study was to determine the effects of cervical tSCS, combined with an exoskeleton, on motor strength and functionality of UE in subjects with cSCI. (2) Methods: twenty-two subjects participated in the randomized mix of parallel-group and crossover clinical trial, consisting of an intervention group (n = 15; tSCS exoskeleton) and a control group (n = 14; exoskeleton). The assessment was carried out at baseline, after the last session, and two weeks after the last session. We assessed graded redefined assessment of strength, sensibility, and prehension (GRASSP), box and block test (BBT), spinal cord independence measure III (SCIM-III), maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), ASIA impairment scale (AIS), and WhoQol-Bref; (3) Results: GRASSP, BBT, SCIM III, cylindrical grip force and AIS motor score showed significant improvement in both groups (p ≤ 0.05), however, it was significantly higher in the intervention group than the control group for GRASSP strength, and GRASSP prehension ability (p ≤ 0.05); (4) Conclusion: our findings show potential advantages of the combination of cervical tSCS with an exoskeleton to optimize the outcome for UE.
- Transcutaneous electrical spinal cord stimulation
- Cervical spinal cord injury
- Upper extremity
- Motor function
- Grip force