Robotic-assisted stepping modulates monosynaptic reflexes in forearm muscles in the human

Motor Control Section, Dept. of Rehabilitation for the Movement Functions, Research Institute, National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities, Saitama 359-8555, Japan.
Journal of Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 2.89). 07/2011; 106(4):1679-87. DOI: 10.1152/jn.01049.2010
Source: PubMed


Although the amplitude of the Hoffmann (H)-reflex in the forelimb muscles is known to be suppressed during rhythmic leg movement, it is unknown which factor plays a more important role in generating this suppression-movement-related afferent feedback or feedback related to body loading. To specifically explore the movement- and load-related afferent feedback, we investigated the modulation of the H-reflex in the flexor carpi radialis (FCR) muscle during robotic-assisted passive leg stepping. Passive stepping and standing were performed using a robotic gait-trainer system (Lokomat). The H-reflex in the FCR, elicited by electrical stimulation to the median nerve, was recorded at 10 different phases of the stepping cycle, as well as during quiet standing. We confirmed that the magnitude of the FCR H-reflex was suppressed significantly during passive stepping compared with during standing. The suppressive effect on the FCR H-reflex amplitude was seen at all phases of stepping, irrespective of whether the stepping was conducted with body weight loaded or unloaded. These results suggest that movement-related afferent feedback, rather than load-related afferent feedback, plays an important role in suppressing the FCR H-reflex amplitude.

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    • "The lack of phase modulation during passive walking (Nakajima et al., 2011) could be explained by reduced contributions from central motor commands during passive walking . Thus the present results, in conjunction with these previous findings, suggest that the requirements necessary to induce phase-dependent reflex modulation include either central motor commands for active walking or a combination of components of afferent feedback related to the active movement or both. "
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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT It is well established that remote whole-limb rhythmic movement (e.g., cycling or stepping) induces suppression of the Hoffman (H-) reflex evoked in stationary limbs. However, the dependence of reflex amplitude on the phase of the movement cycle (i.e., phase-dependence) has not been consistent across this previous research. The authors investigated the phase-dependence of flexor carpi radialis (FCR) H-reflex amplitudes during active walking and in kinematically matched static postures across the gait cycle. FCR H-reflexes were elicited in the stationary forearm with electrical stimulation to the median nerve. Significant phase-dependent modulation occurred during walking when the gait cycle was examined with adequate phase resolution. The suppression was greatest during midstance and midswing, suggesting increased ascending communication during these phases. There was no phase-dependent modulation in static standing postures and no correlation between lower limb background electromyography levels and H-reflex amplitude during active walking. This evidence, along with previous research demonstrating no phase modulation during passive walking, suggests that afferent feedback associated with joint position and leg muscle activation levels are not the sole source of the phase modulation seen during active walking. Possible sources of phase modulation include combinations of afferent feedback related to active movement or central motor commands or both.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Journal of Motor Behavior
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    • "Under such circumstances, the amplitude of the Hoffmann (H-) reflex in the soleus muscle is suppressed in humans by presynaptic inhibition at the Ia afferent – alpha motoneuronal synapse (Ia PSI) [9]–[15]. Interestingly, rhythmic leg movement also leads to suppression of H-reflex amplitude in forearm muscles [16], [17]. These results suggest that a reciprocally organized pattern generating system activated by locomotor commands and afferent feedback modulates excitability of H-reflex pathways in muscles remote from the source of movement [3], [6], [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Presynaptic inhibition of transmission between Ia afferent terminals and alpha motoneurons (Ia PSI) is a major control mechanism associated with soleus H-reflex modulation during human locomotion. Rhythmic arm cycling suppresses soleus H-reflex amplitude by increasing segmental Ia PSI. There is a reciprocal organization in the human nervous system such that arm cycling modulates H-reflexes in leg muscles and leg cycling modulates H-reflexes in forearm muscles. However, comparatively little is known about mechanisms subserving the effects from leg to arm. Using a conditioning-test (C-T) stimulation paradigm, the purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that changes in Ia PSI underlie the modulation of H-reflexes in forearm flexor muscles during leg cycling. Subjects performed leg cycling and static activation while H-reflexes were evoked in forearm flexor muscles. H-reflexes were conditioned with either electrical stimuli to the radial nerve (to increase Ia PSI; C-T interval = 20 ms) or to the superficial radial (SR) nerve (to reduce Ia PSI; C-T interval = 37-47 ms). While stationary, H-reflex amplitudes were significantly suppressed by radial nerve conditioning and facilitated by SR nerve conditioning. Leg cycling suppressed H-reflex amplitudes and the amount of this suppression was increased with radial nerve conditioning. SR conditioning stimulation removed the suppression of H-reflex amplitude resulting from leg cycling. Interestingly, these effects and interactions on H-reflex amplitudes were observed with subthreshold conditioning stimulus intensities (radial n., ∼0.6×MT; SR n., ∼ perceptual threshold) that did not have clear post synaptic effects. That is, did not evoke reflexes in the surface EMG of forearm flexor muscles. We conclude that the interaction between leg cycling and somatosensory conditioning of forearm H-reflex amplitudes is mediated by modulation of Ia PSI pathways. Overall our results support a conservation of neural control mechanisms between the arms and legs during locomotor behaviors in humans.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "For example, rhythmic arm cycling alters lumbar spinal cord excitability [9] in a manner that interacts with cutaneous inputs from the hand [10,11]. Reciprocal and robust effects arising from leg cycling are also found in arm muscles [12,13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Widespread interlimb reflexes evoked in leg muscles by cutaneous stimulation of the hand are phase-modulated and behaviorally relevant to produce functional changes in ankle trajectory during walking. These reflexes are complementary to the segmental responses evoked by stimulation at the ankle. Despite differences in the expression of reflex amplitude based upon site of nerve stimulation, there are some common features as well, suggesting the possibility of shared interneuronal pathways. Currently little is known about integration or shared reflex systems from interlimb cutaneous networks during human locomotion. Here we investigated convergent reflex effects following cutaneous stimulation of the hand and foot during arm and leg cycling (AL) by using spatial facilitation. Participants performed AL cycling and static activation of the target muscle knee extensor vastus lateralis (VL) in 3 different randomly ordered nerve stimulation conditions: 1) superficial radial nerve (SR; input from hand); 2) superficial peroneal nerve (SP; input from foot); and, 3) combined stimulation (SR + SP). Stimuli were applied around the onset of rhythmic EMG bursts in VL corresponding to the onset of the power or leg extension phase. Results During AL cycling, small inhibitory (~80 ms) and large facilitatory reflexes (~100 ~ 150 ms) were seen in VL. The amplitudes of the facilitatory responses with SR + SP stimulation were significantly larger than those for SP or SR stimulation alone. The facilitation was also significantly larger than the simple mathematical summation of amplitudes from SP and SR trials. This indicates extra facilitation beyond what would be accounted for by serial neuronal processing and was not observed during static activation. Conclusions We conclude that AL cycling activates shared interneurons in convergent reflex pathways from cutaneous inputs innervating the hand and leg. This enhanced activity has functional implications for corrective responses during locomotion and for translation to rehabilitation after neurotrauma.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · BMC Neuroscience
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