[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ankle movements in the frontal plane are less prominent though not less relevant than movements in the plantar or dorsal flexion direction. Walking on uneven terrains and standing on narrow stances are examples of circumstances likely imposing marked demands on the ankle medio-lateral stabilization. Following our previous evidence associating lateral bodily sways in quiet standing to activation of the medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscle, in this study we ask: how large is the MG contribution to ankle torque in the frontal plane? By arranging stimulation electrodes in a selective configuration, current pulses were applied primarily to the MG nerve branch of ten subjects. The contribution of populations of MG motor units of progressively smaller recruitment threshold to ankle torque was evaluated by increasing the stimulation amplitude by fixed amounts. From smallest intensities (12-32mA) leading to the firstly observable MG twitches in force-plate recordings, current pulses reached intensities (56-90mA) below which twitches in other muscles could not be observed from the skin. Key results showed a substantial MG torque contribution tending to rotate upward the foot medial aspect (ankle inversion). Nerve stimulation further revealed a linear relationship between the peak torque of ankle plantar flexion and inversion, across participants (Pearson R>.81, p<.01). Specifically, regardless of the current intensity applied, the peak torque of ankle inversion amounted to about 13% of plantar flexion peak torque. Physiologically, these results provide experimental evidence that MG activation may contribute to stabilize the body in the frontal plane, especially under situations of challenged stability.
Human movement science 08/2013; · 2.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Application of two dimensional surface electrode arrays can provide a means of mapping motor unit action potentials on the skin surface above a muscle. The resulting muscle tissue displacement can be quantified, in a single plane, using ultrasound imaging (US). Currently however, it is not possible to simultaneously map spatio-temporal propagation of activation and resulting tissue strain. In this manuscript we developed and tested a material that will enable concurrent measurement of 2D surface EMGs with US images. Specific protocols were designed to test the compatibility of this new electrode material both with EMG recording and with US analysis. Key results indicate that, for this new electrode material: i) the electrode-skin impedance is similar to that of arrays of electrodes reported in literature; ii) the reflection of ultrasound at the electrode-skin interface is negligible; iii) the likelihood of observing missing contacts, short-circuits and artefacts in EMGs is not affected by the US probe; iv) movement of tissues sampled by US can be tracked accurately. We therefore conclude this approach will facilitate multi-modal imaging of muscle to provide new spatio-temporal information regarding electromechanical function of muscle. This is relevant to basic physiology-biomechanics of active and passive force transmission through and between muscle, of motor unit spatio-temporal activity patterns, of their variation with architecture and task related function, and of their adaptation with ageing, training-exercise-disuse, neurological disease and injury.
Journal of Applied Physiology 08/2013; · 3.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aims were to investigate the plasticity of the myosin heavy chain (MHC) phenotype following neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and to assess the correlation between MHC isoform distribution and muscle fibre conduction velocity (MFCV).14 men were subjected to 24 sessions of quadriceps NMES. Needle biopsies were taken from the dominant vastus lateralis and neuromuscular tests were performed on the dominant thigh before and after training. NMES significantly increased the quadriceps maximal force by 14.4±19.7% (P=0.02), vastus lateralis thickness by 10.7±8.6% (P=0.01), vastus lateralis MFCV by 11.1±3.5% (P<0.001), vastus medialis MFCV by 8.4±1.8% (P<0.001). The whole spectrum of possible MHC isoform adaptations to training was observed: fast-to-slow transition (4 subjects), bi-directional transformation from MHC-1 and MHC-2X isoforms toward MHC-2A isoform (7 subjects), shift toward MHC-2X (2 subjects), no MHC distribution change (1 subject). No significant correlation was observed between MHC-2 relative content and vastus lateralis MFCV (pre-training: R2=0.04, P=0.46; post-training: R2=0.02, P=0.67). NMES elicited distinct adaptations in the MHC composition and increased force, muscle thickness, and MFCV. The MHC isoform distribution did not correlate with MFCV, thus implying that the proportion of different fibre types cannot be estimated from this electrophysiological variable.
International Journal of Sports Medicine 01/2013; · 2.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study we investigated whether the spatial distribution of surface electromyographic (EMG) amplitude can be used to describe the activation of muscle portions with different biomechanical actions. Ten healthy subjects performed isometric contractions aimed to selectively activate a number of forearm muscles or muscle subportions. Monopolar electromyographic signals were collected with an electrode grid of 128 electrodes placed on the proximal, dorsal portion of the forearm. The monopolar EMG amplitude [root mean square (RMS) value] distribution was calculated for each contraction, and high-amplitude channels were identified through an automatic procedure; the position of the EMG source was estimated with the barycenter of these channels. Each of the contractions tested was associated to a specific EMG amplitude distribution, whose location in space was consistent with the expected anatomical position of the main agonist muscle (or subportion). The position of each source was significantly different from the others in at least one direction (ANOVA; transversally to the forearm: P < 0.01, F = 125.92; longitudinally: P < 0.01, F = 35.83). With such an approach, we could distinguish the spatial position of EMG distributions related to the activation of contiguous muscles [e.g., extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) and extensor digitorum communis (EDC)], different heads of the same muscle (i.e., extensor carpi radialis (ECR) brevis and longus) and different functional compartments (i.e., EDC, middle, and ring fingers). These findings are discussed in terms of how forces along a given direction can be produced by recruiting population of motor units clustered not only in specific muscles, but also in muscle sub-portions. In addition, this study supports the use of high-density EMG systems to characterize the activation of muscle subportions with different biomechanical actions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Motor unit behavior differs between contraction types at submaximal contraction levels, however is challenging to study during maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs). With multi-channel surface electromyography (sEMG), mean physiological characteristics of the active motor units can be extracted. Two 8-electrode sEMG arrays were attached on biceps brachii muscle (one on each head) to examine behavior of sEMG variables during isometric, eccentric and concentric MVCs of elbow flexors in 36volunteers. On average, isometric (364±88N) and eccentric (353±74N) MVCs were higher than concentric (290±73N) MVC (p<0.001). Mean muscle fiber conduction velocity (CV) was highest during eccentric MVC (4.42±0.49m/s) than concentric (4.25±0.49m/s, p<0.01) and isometric (4.14±0.45m/s, p<0.001) MVCs. Furthermore, eccentric MVC showed lower sEMG amplitude at the largest elbow joint angles (120-170°) and higher CV at the smallest (70-150°) elbow joint angles (p<0.05-0.001) than concentric MVC. The differences in CV and sEMG amplitude between the MVCs suggest that the control strategy of motor units differs between the contraction types during MVCs, and is dependent on the muscle length between the dynamic MVCs.
Journal of electromyography and kinesiology: official journal of the International Society of Electrophysiological Kinesiology 11/2012; · 2.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aims of this study were to examine if surface EMG signals can be detected from the quadriceps femoris muscle of severely obese patients and to investigate if differences exist in quadriceps force and myoelectric manifestations of fatigue between obese patients and lean controls. Fourteen severely obese patients (body mass index, BMI, mean±SD: 44.9±6.3kg/m(2)) and fourteen healthy controls (BMI: 23.7±2.5kg/m(2)) were studied. The vastus medialis and lateralis of the dominant thigh were concurrently investigated during voluntary isometric contractions (10-s long at submaximal and maximal intensities and intermittent submaximal contractions until exhaustion) and sustained (120-s long) electrically elicited contractions. We found that the detection of surface EMG signals from the quadriceps is feasible also in severely obese subjects presenting increased thickness of the subcutaneous fat tissue. In addition, we confirmed and extended previous findings showing that the volume conductor properties determine the amplitude and spectral features of the detected surface EMG signals: the lower the subcutaneous tissue thickness, the higher the amplitude and mean frequency estimates. Further, we found no differences in the mechanical and myoelectric manifestations of fatigue during intermittent voluntary and sustained electrically elicited contractions between obese patients and lean controls.
Journal of electromyography and kinesiology: official journal of the International Society of Electrophysiological Kinesiology 10/2012; · 2.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cramps are sudden, involuntary, painful muscle contractions. Their pathophysiology remains poorly understood. One hypothesis is that cramps result from changes in motor neuron excitability (central origin). Another hypothesis is that they result from spontaneous discharges of the motor nerves (peripheral origin). The central origin hypothesis has been supported by recent experimental findings, whose implications for understanding cramp contractions are discussed.
Exercise and sport sciences reviews 10/2012; · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alterations in surface electromyographic (sEMG) signals of the abductor pollicis brevis muscle were evaluated in 24 non-manual workers and 40 manual workers (25 asymptomatic and 15 reporting CTS symptoms).
The initial value (IV) and the normalized rate of change (NRC) of average rectified value (ARV), mean frequency of the power spectrum (MNF), and muscle fiber conduction velocity (MFCV) were calculated during contractions at 20% and 50% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Neuromuscular efficiency (NME) and kurtosis of the sEMG amplitude distribution were estimated.
With respect to controls, manual workers showed higher NME, lower ARV IV, and reduced myoelectric manifestations of fatigue (lower MNF NRC for both contraction levels, and lower MFCV NRC at 50% MVC). Kurtosis at 20% MVC showed higher values in symptomatic manual workers than in the other two groups.
Kurtosis seems to be a promising parameter for use in monitoring individuals who develop CTS.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We analysed the cramp threshold (i.e. the minimum frequency of electrical stimulation capable of inducing a cramp) and the behaviour of individual motor units during cramps electrically elicited in the absence (intact condition) and presence (blocked condition) of a peripheral nerve block in eight healthy subjects. The cramp threshold was significantly greater in the blocked than in the intact condition (18 ± 3 Hz vs. 13 ± 3 Hz; P = 0.01). Cramp duration and peak EMG amplitude in the intact condition (55.6 ± 19.2 s and 47.5 ± 24.8 μV, respectively) were significantly greater compared to the blocked condition (2.6 ± 1.3 s and 13.9 ± 8.8 μV; P < 0.01). All motor units identified in the blocked condition (n = 38) had a shorter interval of activity and a greater discharge rate compared to the intact condition (n = 37) (respectively, 1.1 ± 1.0 s vs. 29.5 ± 21.8 s, P < 0.0001; 25.7 ± 11.6 pulses s(-1) vs. 20.0 ± 5.9 pulses s(-1); P < 0.05). The motor unit activity detected during the blocked condition corresponded to spontaneous discharges of the motor nerves, while in the intact condition the motor unit discharge patterns presented the typical characteristics of motor neuron discharges. These results indicate a spinal involvement at the origin of cramps and during their development.
The Journal of Physiology 12/2011; 589(Pt 23):5759-73. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) algorithm is applied to the problem of "load sharing" among muscles acting on the same joint for the purpose of estimating their individual mechanical contribution based on their EMG and on the total torque. Compared to the previously tested Interior-Reflective Newton Algorithm (IRNA), PSO is more computationally demanding. The mean square error between the experimental and reconstructed torque is similar for the two algorithms. However, IRNA requires multiple initializations and tighter constraints found by trial-and-errors for the input variables to find a suitable optimum which is not the case for PSO whose initialization is random.
Conference proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference 08/2011; 2011:3861-4.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to investigate the uniformity of the muscle motor point location for lower limb muscles in healthy subjects. Fifty-three subjects of both genders (age range: 18-50 years) were recruited. The muscle motor points were identified for the following ten muscles of the lower limb (dominant side): vastus medialis, rectus femoris, and vastus lateralis of the quadriceps femoris, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus of the hamstring muscles, tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, lateral and medial gastrocnemius. The muscle motor point was identified by scanning the skin surface with a stimulation pen electrode and corresponded to the location of the skin area above the muscle in which an electrical pulse evoked a muscle twitch with the least injected current. For each investigated muscle, 0.15 ms square pulses were delivered through the pen electrode at low current amplitude (<10 mA) and frequency (2 Hz). 16 motor points were identified in the 10 investigated muscles of almost all subjects: 3 motor points for the vastus lateralis, 2 motor points for rectus femoris, vastus medialis, biceps femoris, and tibialis anterior, 1 motor point for the remaining muscles. An important inter-individual variability was observed for the position of the following 4 out of 16 motor points: vastus lateralis (proximal), biceps femoris (short head), semimembranosus, and medial gastrocnemius. Possible implications for electrical stimulation procedures and electrode positioning different from those commonly applied for thigh and leg muscles are discussed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electrical stimulation of innervated muscles has been investigated for many decades with alternations of high and low clinical interest in the fields of rehabilitation medicine and sports sciences. Early work demonstrated that afferent fibers have lower thresholds and are usually activated first (therefore eliciting an H-reflex). In the case of nerve trunk stimulation, the order of recruitment is mostly conditioned by the axonal dimension and excitability threshold. In the case of muscle motor point stimulation, the spatial distribution of nerve branches plays a predominant role. Sustained stimulation produces a progressive increase of force that is often maintained in subsequent voluntary activation by stroke patients. This observation suggested a facilitation mechanism at the spinal and/or supraspinal level. Such facilitation has been observed in healthy subjects as well, and may explain the generation of cramps elicited during stimulation and sustained for dozens of seconds after the stimulation has been interrupted. The most recent interpretations of facilitation resulting from peripheral stimulation focused on presynaptic (potentiation of neurotransmitter release from afferent fibers) or postsynaptic (generation of "persistent inward currents" in spinal motor neurons or interneurons) mechanisms. The renewed attention to these phenomena is once more increasing the interest toward electrical stimulation of the neuromuscular system. This is an opportunity for a structured investigation of the field aimed to resolving elements of confusion and controversy that still plague this area of electrophysiology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids are known to decrease protein synthesis and conduction velocity of muscle fibers. However, the degree of impairment of muscle protein synthesis and conduction slowing in patients with Cushing's disease remains poorly characterized. Our objective was to investigate whether and to what extent chronic endogenous hypercortisolism could decrease the circulating levels of muscle proteins and modify myoelectric indexes of sarcolemmal excitability and fatigability.
A total of ten patients with Cushing's disease and 30 healthy controls matched for age, sex, and body mass index were compared.
Blood sampling and electrophysiological tests on vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and tibialis anterior muscles were performed.
Serum creatine kinase (CK) and plasma myoglobin were significantly lower in patients with respect to controls (P<0.001 and P<0.05 respectively): the mean relative difference between patients and controls was 48.9% for CK and 21.4% for myoglobin. Muscle fiber conduction velocity (MFCV) and myoelectric manifestations of fatigue were significantly decreased in all muscles of the patients with respect to controls. The mean relative difference in MFCV between patients and controls was 26.0% for vastus lateralis, 22.9% for vastus medialis, and 11.6% for tibialis anterior. These differences contrasted with the paucity of signs suggestive of myopathy that were obtained by needle electromyography in the patients.
Slowing of muscle fiber conduction and decreased levels of circulating muscle proteins are sensitive markers of impaired muscle function, which are suitable for use in combination with clinical assessment and standard electrodiagnostic tests for accurate identification and follow-up of myopathic patients.
European Journal of Endocrinology 03/2011; 164(6):985-93. · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been shown that mean muscle fiber conduction velocity (CV) can be acutely impaired after eccentric exercise. However, it is not known whether this applies to other exercise modes. Therefore, the purpose of this experiment was to compare the effects of eccentric and concentric exercises on CV, and amplitude and frequency content of surface electromyography (sEMG) signals up to 24 h post-exercise. Multichannel sEMG signals were recorded from biceps brachii muscle of the exercised arm during isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and electrically evoked contractions induced by motor-point stimulation before, immediately after and 2 h after maximal eccentric (ECC group, N = 12) and concentric (CON group, N = 12) elbow flexor exercises. Isometric MVC decreased in CON by 21.7 ± 12.0% (± SD, p < 0.01) and by 30.0 ± 17.7% (p < 0.001) in ECC immediately post-exercise when compared to baseline. At 2 h post-exercise, ECC showed a reduction in isometric MVC by 24.7 ± 13.7% (p < 0.01) when compared to baseline, while no significant reduction (by 8.0 ± 17.0%, ns) was observed in CON. Similarly, reduction in CV was observed only in ECC both during the isometric MVC (from baseline of 4.16 ± 0.3 to 3.43 ± 0.4 m/s, p < 0.001) and the electrically evoked contractions (from baseline of 4.33 ± 0.4 to 3.82 ± 0.3 m/s, p < 0.001). In conclusion, eccentric exercise can induce a greater and more prolonged reduction in muscle force production capability and CV than concentric exercise.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to compare the decomposition results obtained from high-density surface electromyography (EMG) and concurrently recorded intramuscular EMG. Surface EMG signals were recorded with electrode grids from the tibialis anterior, biceps brachii, and abductor digiti minimi muscles of twelve healthy men during isometric contractions ranging between 5% and 20% of the maximal force. Bipolar intramuscular EMG signals were recorded with pairs of wire electrodes. Surface and intramuscular EMG were independently decomposed into motor unit spike trains. When averaged over all the contractions of the same contraction force, the percentage of discharge times of motor units identified by both decompositions varied in the ranges 84%-87% (tibialis anterior), 84%-86% (biceps brachii), and 87%-92% (abductor digiti minimi) across the force levels analyzed. This index of agreement between the two decompositions was linearly correlated with a self-consistency measure of motor unit discharge pattern that was based on coefficient of variation for the interspike interval (R(2) = 0.68 for tibialis anterior, R(2) = 0.56 for biceps brachii, and R(2) = 0.38 for abductor digiti minimi). These results constitute an important contribution to the validation of the noninvasive approach for the investigation of motor unit behavior in isometric low-force tasks.
IEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering: a publication of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 02/2010; 18(3):221-9. · 2.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids are known to decrease protein synthesis and impair membrane excitability of muscle fibers. However, their short-term effects on muscle structure and function of healthy subjects remain poorly understood.
Our objective was to investigate whether steroid administration could decrease the circulating levels of muscle proteins and modify myoelectric indexes of sarcolemmal excitability and fatigability.
We conducted a single-blind, placebo-controlled study in 20 men randomized to receive dexamethasone (8 mg/d) or placebo for 1 wk. Blood sampling, force measurements for knee extensors and elbow flexors, and electrophysiological tests for biceps brachii, vastus lateralis and medialis, and tibialis anterior muscles were performed before and after the intervention.
Dexamethasone administration improved force by 6.0 +/- 6.0% (P = 0.01) for elbow flexors and by 8.5 +/- 5.5% (P < 0.01) for knee extensors, decreased levels of creatine kinase by 50.5 +/- 30.0% (P < 0.01) and myoglobin by 41.8 +/- 17.5% (P < 0.01), and impaired sarcolemmal excitability, as shown by the decline of muscle fiber conduction velocity for the four muscles (range from -6 to -10.5%, P < 0.05). Moreover, significant reductions of the myoelectric manifestations of fatigue were observed for the four muscles; the decrease in the rate of change of the mean frequency of the electromyographic power spectrum ranged from -22.6 to -43.9% (P < 0.05). In contrast, no significant changes were observed in muscle excitability and fatigability in subjects who received the placebo.
The demonstration that glucocorticoid-induced muscle impairments can be unraveled by means of blood sampling and noninvasive electrophysiological tests has clinical implications for the early identification of subclinical or preclinical forms of myopathy in treated patients.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 02/2010; 95(4):1663-71. · 6.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article is the first section of a review work structured in three parts and concerning a) advances in surface EMG detection and processing techniques, b) recent progress in surface EMG clinical research applications and, c) myoelectric control in neurorehabilitation. This article deals with the state of the art regarding a) the electrode-skin interface (equivalent circuits, skin treatment, conductive gels), b) signal detection modalities, spatial filters and front-end amplifiers, c) power line interference removal, separation of propagating and non-propagating potentials and removal of outliers from surface EMG signal maps, d) segmentation of surface EMG signal maps, e) decomposition of surface EMG into the constituent action potential trains, and f) relationship between surface EMG and force. The material is presented with an effort to fill gaps left by previous reviews and identify areas open for future research.
Critical Reviews in Biomedical Engineering 01/2010; 38(4):305-45.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article is the second part of a larger review work that has been structured in three parts. The three parts concern a) advances in surface EMG detection and processing techniques, b) recent progress in surface EMG clinical research applications, and c) myoelectric control in neurorehabilitation. This second part concerns state of the art applications of surface EMG techniques to a) the external anal sphincter in relation to episiotomy and incontinence; b) the assessment of postural control mechanisms; c) exercise physiology, electrical stimulation and muscle cramps; and d) ergonomics and work-related neuromuscular disorders. The material is presented with an effort to fill gaps left by previous reviews and identify areas open for future research.
Critical Reviews in Biomedical Engineering 01/2010; 38(4):347-79.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To explore the efficacy of muscle motor point stimulation in eliciting muscle cramps, 11 subjects underwent eight sessions of electrical stimulation of the following muscles bilaterally: abductor hallucis flexor hallucis brevis, and both heads of the gastrocnemius muscles. Bursts of 150 square wave stimuli (duration: 152 micros; current intensity: 30% supramaximal) were applied. The stimulation frequency was increased from 4 pulses per second (pps) at increments of 2 pps until a cramp was induced. The number of cramps that could be elicited was smaller in flexor hallucis brevis than in abductor hallucis (16 vs. 22 out of 22 trials each; P < 0.05) and in the lateral gastrocnemius than in the medial gastrocnemius (5 vs. 20 out of 22 trials each; P < 0.0001). We show that leg and foot muscles have different cramp susceptibility, and the intermuscle variability in the elicitability profile for electrically induced cramps supports the use of the proposed method for cramp research.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We analyzed individual motor units during electrically elicited cramp contractions with the aim of characterizing the variability and degree of common oscillations in their discharges. Intramuscular and surface electromyographic (EMG) signals were detected from the abductor hallucis muscle of 11 healthy subjects (age 27.0+/-3.7 yr) during electrically elicited cramps. In all, 48 motor units were identified from the intramuscular EMG. These motor units were active for 23.6+/-16.2 s, during which their average discharge rate was 14.5+/-5.1 pulses/s (pps) and their minimum and maximum rates were, respectively, 6.0+/-0.8 and 25.0+/-8.0 pps (P<0.001). The coefficient of variation for the interspike interval (ISI) was 44.6+/-9.7% and doublet discharges constituted 4.1+/-4.7% of the total number of discharges. In 38 motor units, the SD of the ISI was positively correlated to the mean ISI (R2=0.37, P<0.05). The coherence spectrum between smoothed discharge rates of pairs of motor units showed one significant peak at 1.4+/-0.4 Hz for 29 of the 96 motor unit pairs and two significant peaks at 1.3+/-0.5 and 1.5+/-0.5 Hz for 8 motor unit pairs. The cross-correlation function between pairs of discharge rates showed a significant peak (0.52+/-0.11) in 26 motor unit pairs. In conclusion, motor units active during cramps showed a range of discharge rates similar to that observed during voluntary contractions but larger ISI variability, probably due to large synaptic noise. Moreover, the discharge rates of the active motor units showed common oscillations.
Journal of Neurophysiology 08/2009; 102(3):1890-901. · 3.04 Impact Factor