Reduced voluntary drive during sustained but not during brief maximal voluntary contractions in the first dorsal interosseous weakened by spinal cord injury

Roeland F. Prak, Marwah Doestzada, Christine K. Thomas, Marga Tepper, X. Inge Zijdewind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In ablebodied (AB) individuals, voluntary muscle activation progressively declines during sustained contractions. However, few data are available on voluntary muscle activation during sustained contractions in muscles weakened by spinal cord injury (SCI), where greater force declines may limit task performance. SCI-related impairment of muscle activation complicates interpretation of the interpolated twitch technique commonly used to assess muscle activation. We attempted to estimate and correct for the SCI-related-superimposed twitch. Seventeen participants, both AB and with SCI (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale C/D) produced brief and sustained (2-min) maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) with the first dorsal interosseous. Force and electromyography were recorded together with superimposed (doublet) twitches. MVCs of participants with SCI were weaker than those of AB participants (20.3 N, SD 7.1 vs. 37.9 N, SD 9.5; P < 0.001); MVC-superimposed twitches were larger in participants with SCI (SCI median 10.1%, range 2.0-63.2%; AB median 4.7%, range 0.0-18.4% rest twitch; P = 0.007). No difference was found after correction for the SCI-relatedsuperimposed twitch (median 6.7%, 0.0-17.5% rest twitch, P = 0.402). Thus during brief contractions, the maximal corticofugal output that participants with SCI could exert was similar to that of AB participants. During the sustained contraction, force decline (SCI, 58.0%, SD 15.1; AB, 57.2% SD 13.3) was similar (P = 0.887) because participants with SCI developed less peripheral (P = 0.048) but more central fatigue than AB participants. The largest change occurred at the start of the sustained contraction when the (corrected) superimposed twitches increased more in participants with SCI (SCI, 16.3% rest twitch, SD 20.8; AB, 2.7%, SD 4.7; P = 0.01). The greater reduction in muscle activation after SCI may relate to a reduced capacity to overcome fast fatigue-related excitability changes at the spinal level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1320-1329
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Volume119
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • Doublet force
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle activation
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Twitch interpolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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