Increased blood pressure can reduce fatigue of thenar muscles paralyzed after spinal cord injury

Jane E. Butler, Edith Ribot-Ciscar, Inge Zijdewind, Christine K. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to evaluate whether increases in blood pressure, and presumably muscle perfusion pressure, improve the endurance of thenar muscles paralyzed chronically by cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). Resting mean arterial pressure (MAP) was low in all eight subjects (64 ± 2 mmHg). Muscle fatigue (force decline) was produced on 2 days by intermittent supramaximal electrical stimulation of the median nerve at 20 Hz for 2 min. During one of the fatigue tests, a concurrent sustained voluntary contraction of the contralateral elbow flexors was used to increase resting MAP (by 22%, on average). Although this change in blood pressure resulted in no significant change in mean fatigue for the group, changes in MAP with exercise (median nerve stimulation with and without voluntary contraction) correlated with changes in thenar muscle fatigue in seven subjects. For every 10% increase in MAP, fatigue was reduced by ∼3%. The data suggest that low blood pressure after chronic cervical SCI and poor blood pressure control during exercise exacerbate the fatigability of paralyzed muscles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages10
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Fatigue
  • Muscle paralysis
  • Muscle perfusion pressure
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Systemic blood pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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