Leg muscle force generated by electrical stimulation following spinal cord injury in humans

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The data for this research paper was collected by HL Gerrits as part of her PhD programme into muscle tendon function following spinal cord injury in humans. It was completed under the supervision of Anthony Sargeant.

Selected contractile properties and fatigability of the quadriceps muscle were studied in seven spinal cord-injured (SCI) and 13 able-bodied control (control) individuals. The SCI muscles demonstrated faster rates of contraction and relaxation than did control muscles and extremely large force oscillation amplitudes in the 10-Hz signal (65 +/- 22% in SCI versus 23 +/- 8% in controls). In addition, force loss and slowing of relaxation following repeated fatiguing contractions were greater in SCI compared with controls.

The faster contractile properties and greater fatigability of the SCI muscles are in agreement with a characteristic predominance of fast glycolytic muscle fibers. Unexpectedly, the SCI muscles exhibited a force-frequency relationship shifted to the left, most likely as the result of relatively large twitch amplitudes. The results indicate that the contractile properties of large human locomotory muscles can be characterized using the approach described and that the transformation to faster properties consequent upon changes in contractile protein expression following SCI can be assessed. These measurements may be useful to optimize stimulation characteristics for functional electrical stimulation and to monitor training effects induced by electrical stimulation during rehabilitation of paralyzed muscles

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