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Disconnection between periodic leg movements and cortical arousals in spinal cord injury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1209
Number of pages3
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Objective: In this study we examine the temporal connection between periodic leg movements (PLMs) and cortical arousals, as well as the treatment effect of pramipexole, in a clinical case with spinal cord lesion. Methods: A patient with complete cervical spinal cord injury and PLMs during sleep underwent two baseline sleep recordings, one recording with dopaminergic treatment, and one recording with adaptive servoventilation. Results: The PLMs were temporally dissociated from cortical arousals as well as from respiratory or heart rate events. PLMs were suppressed by pramipexole and persisted after treatment of apnea. Conclusion: The disconnection of PLMs from arousals supports a spinal generator or peripheral trigger mechanism for PLMs. The suppression of movements by a dopamine agonist suggests that its site of action is caudal to the cervical lesion and outside of the brain. Our observation provides significant new knowledge about the pathogenesis of PLMs and warrants studies in larger populations.


  • Case report, Cortical arousal, Dopamine agonist, Periodic leg movements, Sleep apnea, Spinal cord injury