Effect of temperature in paralysed muscles of people with spinal cord injury

HL Gerrits collected this research data on spinal cord injured people as part of her PhD supervised by Professor Anthony Sargeant. One problem encountered in trying to assess any training induced changes in the contractile properties of the paralysed muscles using electrical stimulation is that the muscles can be colder than normal as a consequence of circulatory changes.
Clinical Science
Clin Sci (Lond). 2000 Jan;98(1):31-8

Low muscle temperature in paralysed muscles of individuals with spinal cord injury may affect the contractile properties of these muscles. The present study was therefore undertaken to assess the effects of increased muscle temperature on the isometric contractile properties of electrically stimulated paralysed quadriceps muscles. When muscle temperature at a depth of 3 cm was increased from approximately 32 degrees C to approximately 36 degrees C by ultra-short-wave application, the half-relaxation time shortened and low-frequency force responses became less fused, but the maximal rate of increase in force remained unchanged.

Heating had no effect upon either force decline or slowing of relaxation during fatiguing contractions. The force-frequency relationship of the paralysed quadriceps muscle was shifted to the right after the muscle was heated. Despite this shift, however, the relationship still resembled that in muscles of non-paralysed individuals, probably due to the unexplained high twitch forces. These results indicate that reduced muscle temperature in spinal-cord-injured individuals may lead to an underestimation of the changes in contractile properties in terms of relaxation rate or the degree of fusion with low-frequency stimulation. In addition, the force-frequency relationship of paralysed muscles does not accurately reflect the magnitude of these changes, even when the muscle is heated, and should therefore be treated with caution.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) for people with spinal cord injury

HL Gerrits carried out the data collection for this research study as part of her PhD programme supervised by Professor Anthony Sargeant. It shows how Functional Electrical Stimulation may mitigate the changes that occur when muscles are paralysed following spinal cord injury.
Spinal Cord
Spinal Cord. 2000 Apr;38(4):214-23

STUDY DESIGN: A longitudinal training study.

OBJECTIVES: To assess if contractile speed and fatigability of paralysed quadriceps muscles in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) can be altered by functional electrical stimulation leg cycle ergometry (FES-LCE) training.

SETTINGS: The Sint Maartenskliniek rehabilitation centre and the University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


METHODS: Contractile properties of the quadriceps muscle were studied in seven people with motor-complete SCI who participated in a FES-LCE training program. Subjects trained for 30 min, three times per week for 6 weeks. Contractile speed and fatigue characteristics of electrically stimulated isometric contractions were compared before and after 6 weeks of FES-LCE.

RESULTS: Fatigue resistance improved following FES-LCE training as indicated by the higher forces maintained in response to repetitive electrical stimulation. In contrast with an improved fatigue resistance, the maximal rate of force rise was unaffected, the speed of relaxation increased and the fusion of a 10 Hz force signal decreased. Furthermore, the force-frequency relationship shifted to the right at low stimulation frequencies, indicated by a decline in the ratio of 1 and 100 Hz force responses as well as the ratio of 10 and 100 Hz force responses.

CONCLUSION: FES-LCE training can change the physiological properties of the quadriceps muscle in people with SCI. Even after a short period of training, the stimulated muscles become more resistant to fatigue. Furthermore, the increased speed of relaxation and associated decreased fusion and altered force-frequency relationship following training may be related to adaptations in the calcium handling processes, which reflect an early response of long-term disused muscles.

Optimising seat height for wheelchair users

This research was carried out by Luc Van der Woude as part of his PhD in the Physiology Department headed by Professor Anthony Sargeant. The published paper describes a methodology for investigating the effect of different seat heights of wheelchairs on propulsion techniques and cardiorespiratory demand. It is an example of the wide ranging research interests of Tony Sargeant which ranged from the molecular and biochemical level to practical whole body human physiology of the type here described.
Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
J Rehabil Res Dev. 1989 Fall;26(4):31-50

To study the effect of seat height on the cardiorespiratory system and kinematics in handrim wheelchair ambulation, nine non-wheelchair users participated in a wheelchair exercise experiment on a motor-driven treadmill. The subjects conducted five progressive exercise tests. After an initial try-out test, four tests were performed at different standardized seat heights of 100, 120, 140, and 160 degrees elbow extension (subject sitting erect, hands on the rim in top-dead-center = 12.00 hrs; full extension = 180 degrees). Each test consisted of four 3-minute exercise blocks at speeds of respectively 0.55, 0.83, 1.11, and 1.39 m.s-1 (2-5 km.hr-1). Analysis of variance revealed significant effects of seat height (P less than 0.05) on gross mechanical efficiency (ME), oxygen cost, push range, and push duration, and on the ranges of motion in the different arm segments and trunk. Mean ME appeared higher at the lower seat heights of 100 and 120 degrees elbow extension. This is reflected in an enhanced oxygen consumption at seat heights of 140 and 160 degrees elbow extension. Simultaneously, the push range showed a 15 to 20 degree decrease with increasing seat height, which is reflected in a decreased push duration. In the push phase, decreases in retroflexion and abduction/adduction of the upper arm were seen. The trunk shifted further forward, and the motion range in the elbow joint shifted to extension with increasing seat height. No shifts in minimum and maximum angular velocities were seen with increasing seat height. The results showed an interrelationship between wheelchair seat height and both cardiorespiratory and kinematic parameters. With respect to the cardiorespiratory system, the optimization of the wheelchair geometry, based on functional characteristics of the user, appears beneficial.

Research methods for measuring human muscle force

This research was carried out by the brilliant young Greek PhD student supervised by Professor Anthony Sargeant and Vasilios Baltzopoulos. The research makes an important contribution to methods for calculating muscle forces in-vivo in humans.
European Journal of Applied Physiology
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Nov;83(4 -5):363-9

Abstract The aim of the present study was to estimate and compare in vivo measurement-based Achilles tendon moment arm lengths at rest and during isometric plantarflexion maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) using the centre-of-rotation (COR) and the tendon-excursion (TE) methods. Both methods were based on morphometric analysis of sagittal-plane magnetic resonance images of the foot. Using the COR method, moment arms were obtained at ankle angles from 15 degrees of dorsiflexion to 30 degrees of plantarflexion in steps of 15 degrees, digitizing the perpendicular distance from a moving centre of rotation in the tibio-talar joint to the Achilles tendon action line.

The TE method was based on measurement of calcaneal displacement along the tibial axis during 15 degrees rotations of the ankle joint, from 30 degrees of dorsiflexion to 45 degrees of plantarflexion. The two methods gave similar estimations at rest varying from 4.3 to 5.6 cm. Using the COR method, the Achilles tendon moment arm during MVC was larger by 1-1.5 cm (22-27%, P < 0.01) than the respective resting value. In contrast, no difference (P > 0.05) was found between the resting and MVC moment arm estimations of the TE method. The disagreement in moment arms during MVC may be attributed to differences in the assumptions made between the two methods. The TE method has more limitations than the COR method and its estimations during MVC should be treated with caution. Resting Achilles tendon moment arm estimations of the COR method should be multiplied by 1.22-1.27 when maximal isometric plantarflexion joint moments, musculotendon forces and stresses are predicted using modelling

Age effects on muscle fatigue and recovery

Research into muscle fatigue in older compared to young rats. There seemed to be differences which may be related to the population of faster muscle fibres which seemed to take longer to recover from fatigue in the older rat muscles. The data for this publication was collected by Arnold de Haan who had been PhD student of Professor Anthony Sargeant.
Quarterley Journal of Experimental Physiology
Q J Exp Physiol. 1989 Sep;74(5):715-26

Force-velocity, power-velocity and unloaded shortening data were obtained from in situ medial gastrocnemius muscle-tendon complexes (stimulated at 60 Hz) with intact circulation of mature male rats (approximately 125 days old). Measurements were carried out at the end of a long (15 s) contraction (fatigued muscles) or with a short (1 s) contraction either in the fresh state (fresh muscles) or in muscles which had recovered for 15 min after a long contraction. Compared to the fresh state fatigue reduced isometric force by 57%, maximal shortening velocity by approximately 40% and maximal power output by 81%.

These reductions were similar to data previously obtained with younger rats (40 days old). However, the velocity data of the muscles which had recovered for 15 min after a long contraction showed a greater reduction in the mature rats. This difference between the two age groups together with a difference in the changes in the initial parts of the isometric force time curves suggest an age-dependent response of the fast-fatigable fibre population of these mixed muscles. In a separate series of experiments the underlying mechanism of the recovery from fatigue was studied in a group of young rats. Fatigue was induced with five long (15 s) contractions (each at 5 min intervals). The recovery of isometric force and power output was monitored with short contractions which indicated a plateau of recovery but the absolute values were still reduced after 60 min (85 and 71% of prefatigue values, respectively). Phosphocreatine concentration recovered rapidly, whereas the ATP concentration was still markedly reduced after 1 h of recovery. The time courses of recovery of inosine-5′-monophosphate (IMP) and lactate concentrations resembled those of force and power output. Thus it is possible that age-dependent differences in IMP and/or lactate production may play a role in fatigue and recovery from fatigue.

Optimum wheelchair propulsion techniques

One of another in the series of practical human physiology studies that Anthony Sargeant supervised as Professor in the Academic Medical Centre of Amsterdam. In this case the data was collected by Luc van der Wooude (now Professor), a dedicated PhD student, under his supervision.
European Journal of Applied Physiology
Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1989;58(6):625-32

To study the effect of different cycle frequencies on cardio-respiratory responses and propulsion technique in hand-rim wheelchair propulsion, experienced wheelchair sportsmen (WS group; n = 6) and non-wheelchair users (NW group; n = 6) performed wheelchair exercise tests on a motor-driven treadmill. The WS group wheeled at velocities of 0.55, 0.83, 1.11 and 1.39 m.s-1 and a slope of 2 degrees. The NW group wheeled at 0.83, 1.11 and 1.39 m.s-1 and a 1 degree slope. In each test, a 3-min period at a freely chosen cycle frequency (FCF: 100%) was followed by four 3-min blocks of paced cycle frequencies at 60%, 80%, 120% and 140% FCF. Effects of both cycle frequency and velocity on physiological and propulsion technique parameters were studied. Analysis of variance showed a significant effect (p less than 0.05) of cycle frequency on oxygen cost and gross mechanical efficiency in both the WS and NW group. This indicated the existence of an optimum cycle frequency which is close to the FCF at any given velocity. The optimum cycle frequency increased with velocity from 0.67 to 1.03 cps over the range studied (p less than 0.05). Oxygen cost was approximately 10% less at 100% FCF than at 60% or 140% FCF. Gross mechanical efficiency for the WS group at 100% FCF was 8.5%, 9.7%, 10.4% and 10.1%, respectively, at the four velocities.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Fatigue causes changes in muscle force and power velocity relationships in muscle

The data for this research was collected in the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam using an experimental model developed by Arnold de Haan who was a PhD student of  Professor Anthony Sargeant. The collaboration with Professor David A Jones was central to the design and interpretations of this study.
Pflugers Archiv
Pflugers Arch. 1989 Feb;413(4):422-8

The force-velocity characteristics of rat medial gastrocnemius muscle have been determined by measuring the force sustained during constant velocity releases of the muscle stimulated in situ at an ambient temperature of 26 degrees C. The velocity of unloaded shortening was determined using the “slack” test and rate of relaxation from the half time of force loss at the end of stimulation. Measurements were first made on fresh muscles using short contractions and then during a series which consisted of a 15 s contraction (fatigued muscle), followed by 15 min recovery and a 1 s contraction (recovered muscle).

After a 5 min recovery period the sequence was repeated. Comparison was made between the fatigued and recovered state in each preparation in order to allow for any change in the preparation during the course of the experiment. After 15 s contraction the fatigued muscles showed a marked reduction in all parameters measured. In fatigued muscles the isometric force fell to 48 +/- 15% (mean +/- SD) and there was a decrease in maximum velocity of shortening to 66%. These changes in the force-velocity relationship were accompanied by slowing of relaxation so that the half time of relaxation nearly doubled. The consequence of these changes was that the maximum power output was reduced by a much greater extent than was the isometric force (75% vs. 52%). It is suggested that the changes in force-velocity characteristics reflect a reduction in cross-bridge cycling in fatigued muscle