Non-invasive assessment of single motor unit mechanomyographic response and twitch force by spike-triggered averaging.

Dipartimento di Elettronica, Laboratorio di Ingegneria del Sistema Neuromuscolare, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy.
Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing (Impact Factor: 1.79). 08/2004; 42(4):496-501. DOI: 10.1007/BF02350990
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A method for non-invasive assessment of single motor unit (MU) properties from electromyographic (EMG), mechanomyographic (MMG) and force signals is proposed. The method is based on the detection and classification of single MU action potentials from interference multichannel surface EMG signals and on the spike-triggered average of the MMG (detected by an accelerometer) and force signals. The first dorsal interosseous (FDI) and abductor digiti minimi (ADM) muscles were investigated at contraction levels of 2% and 5% of the maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) force. A third contraction was performed by selective activation of a single MU with surface MU action potential visual feedback provided to the subject. At 5% MVC, the mean (+/-standard error) single MU MMG peak-to-peak value was 11.0+/-1.8 mm s(-2) (N= 17) and 32.3+/-6.5 mm s(-2) (N=20) for the FDI and ADM muscles, respectively. The peak of the twitch force was, at the same contraction level, 7.41+/-1.34 mN and 14.42+/-2.92 mN, for the FDI and ADM muscles, respectively. The peak-to-peak value of the MMG was significantly different for the same MU at different contraction levels, indicating a non-linear summation of the single MU contributions. For the FDI muscle, the MMG peak-to-peak value of individual MUs was 21.5+/-7.8 mm s(-2), when such MUs were activated with visual feedback provided to the subject, whereas, for the same MUs, it was 11.8+/-3.8 mm s(-2), when the subject maintained a constant force level of 2% MVC. The method proposed allows the non-invasive assessment of single MU membrane and contractile properties during voluntary contractions.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A mechanomyogram (MMG) from single motor units of the anconeus muscle in voluntary isometric contraction was recorded from seven subjects using a spike-triggered averaging technique. The MMG system, in which the input was an ideal impulse and the output was the MMG detected with an acceleration sensor, was identified as the fifth-order model by the subspace-based state-space model identification method. The transfer function of the MMG system was factorized to the second- and the first-order models. The second-order model was compared to the standard form of the second-order model, and its resonance frequency was calculated. The resonance frequencies of the second-order models were 166 ± 61 and 93 ± 27 Hz, which were within the range of the values estimated from mechanical impedance in the literature. The equivalent mechanical model of the MMG system of the single motor unit was proposed on the basis of the fifth-order model. The model might be useful to evaluate the visco-elastic properties of the anconeus muscle.
    Medical & Biological Engineering 03/2011; 49(9):1035-43. · 1.76 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have explored to saturation the efficacy of the conventional signal (such as electromyogram) for muscle function assessment and found its clinical impact limited. Increasing demand for reliable muscle function assessment modalities continue to prompt further investigation into other complementary alternatives. Application of mechanomyographic signal to quantify muscle performance has been proposed due to its inherent mechanical nature and ability to assess muscle function non-invasively while preserving muscular neurophysiologic information. Mechanomyogram is gaining accelerated applications in evaluating the properties of muscle under voluntary and evoked muscle contraction with prospects in clinical practices. As a complementary modality and the mechanical counterpart to electromyogram; mechanomyogram has gained significant acceptance in analysis of isometric and dynamic muscle actions. Substantial studies have also documented the effectiveness of mechanomyographic signal to assess muscle performance but none involved comprehensive appraisal of the state of the art applications with highlights on the future prospect and potential integration into the clinical practices. Motivated by dearth of such critical review, we assessed the literature to investigate its principle of acquisition, current applications, challenges and future directions. Based on our findings, the importance of rigorous scientific and clinical validation of the signal is highlighted. It is also evident that as a robust complement to electromyogram, mechanomyographic signal may possess unprecedented potentials and further investigation will be enlightening.
    Clinical Biomechanics. 01/2014;
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Contractile properties of human motor units provide information on the force capacity and fatigability of muscles. The spike-triggered averaging technique (STA) is a conventional method used to estimate the twitch waveform of single motor units in vivo by averaging the joint force signal. Several limitations of this technique have been previously discussed in an empirical way, using simulated and experimental data. In this study, we provide a theoretical analysis of this technique in the frequency domain and describe its intrinsic limitations. By analyzing the analytical expression of STA, first we show that a certain degree of correlation between the motor unit activities prevents an accurate estimation of the twitch force, even from relatively long recordings. Second, we show that the quality of the twitch estimates by STA is highly related to the relative variability of the inter-spike intervals of motor unit action potentials. Interestingly, if this variability is extremely high, correct estimates could be obtained even for high discharge rates. However, for physiological inter-spike interval variability and discharge rate, the technique performs with relatively low estimation accuracy and high estimation variance. Finally, we show that the selection of the triggers that are most distant from the previous and next, which is often suggested, is not an effective way for improving STA estimates and in some cases can even be detrimental. These results show the intrinsic limitations of the STA technique and provide a theoretical framework for the design of new methods for the measurement of motor unit force twitch.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(3):e92390. · 3.53 Impact Factor