Background. Drastic functional reorganization was observed in the ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1) of a Paralympic long jumper with a unilateral below-knee amputation in our previous study. However, it remains unclear whether long-term para-sports are associated with ipsilateral M1 reorganization since only 1 athlete with amputation was investigated. Objective. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between the long-term para-sports and ipsilateral M1 reorganization after lower limb amputation. Methods. Lower limb rhythmic muscle contraction tasks with functional magnetic resonance imaging and T1-weighted structural imaging were performed in 30 lower limb amputees with different para-sports experiences in the chronic phase. Results. Brain activity in the ipsilateral primary motor and somatosensory areas (SM1) as well as the contralateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, SM1, and inferior temporal gyrus showed a positive correlation with the years of routine para-sports participation (sports years) during contraction of the amputated knee. Indeed, twelve of the 30 participants who exhibited significant ipsilateral M1 activation during amputated knee contraction had a relatively longer history of para-sports participation. No significant correlation was found in the structural analysis. Conclusions. Long-term para-sports could lead to extensive reorganization at the brain network level, not only bilateral M1 reorganization but also reorganization of the frontal lobe and visual pathways. These results suggest that the interaction of injury-induced and use-dependent cortical plasticity might bring about drastic reorganization in lower limb amputees.
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