Can a Plegic Leg Move Itself?




Central Pattern Generators, Locomotion, Spinal Cord Injuries


The spinal cord is responsible for several types of involuntary movements, from segmental spinal myoclonus to stepping automated movements generated by spinal central pattern generators (CPG). We present the case of a 47-year-old inpatient woman admitted for suspected spondylodiscitis. Immediate neurologic evaluation was requested in day 2 due to involuntary movements. The neurological examination revealed paraplegia with hyperreflexia, bilateral Babinski’s sign, thermal-algic and tactile sensory level by T5 and proprioceptive compromise of the lower limbs. Involuntary, stimulus-sensitive, wide, rhythmic and stereotyped movements of the left lower limb were observed, involving several muscle groups, similar to stepping movements. Further investigation documented myelopathy secondary to dorsal extradural lesion D2-D3, whose excision led to the complete resolution of these movements. Given the characteristics of these movements, we assume that they are stepping automatism movements generated by CPG.


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How to Cite

Borges C, Costa A, Velon AG, Mendes M. Can a Plegic Leg Move Itself?. Sinapse [Internet]. 2024 Jan. 25 [cited 2024 Apr. 16];23(4):207-11. Available from:

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