Post-Polio Syndrome


The data collection and analysis of this research study was largely the work of Frans Nollet and Anita Beelen. Other senior authors provided input at various stages of planning and writing. Professor Anthony J Sargeant was the supervisor for the PhD thesis of which this work formed a part.

Disability and functional assessment in former polio patients with and without postpolio syndrome

Frans Nollet, Anita Beelen, Prins MH, Marianne de Visser, Anthony J Sargeant, Lankhorst GJ, de Jong BA 

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1999 Feb;80(2):136-143
OBJECTIVES: To compare perceived health problems and disability in former polio subjects with postpolio syndrome (PPS) and those without postpolio syndrome (non-PPS), and to evaluate perceived health problems, disability, physical performance, and muscle strength.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey; partially blinded data collection.
SUBJECTS: One hundred three former polio subjects, aged 32 to 60yrs. This volunteer sample came from referrals and patient contacts. Criterion for PPS: new muscle weakness among symptoms.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Nottingham Health Profile (NHP), adapted D-code of the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps, performance test, and muscle strength assessment.
RESULTS: PPS subjects (n = 76) showed higher scores (p < .001) than non-PPS subjects (n = 27) within the NHP categories of physical mobility, energy, and pain. On a 16-item Polio Problems List, 78% of PPS subjects selected fatigue as their major problem, followed by walking outdoors (46%) and climbing stairs (41%). The disabilities of PPS subjects were mainly seen in physical and social functioning. No differences in manually tested strength were found between patient groups. PPS subjects needed significantly more time for the performance test than non-PPS subjects and their perceived exertion was higher. Perceived health problems (NHP-PhysMobility) correlated significantly with physical disability (r = .66), performance-time (r = .54), and muscle strength (r = .38). With linear regression analysis, 54% of the NHP-PhysMobility score could be explained by the performance test (time and exertion), presence of PPS, and muscle strength, whereas strength itself explained only 14% of the NHP-PhysMobility score.
CONCLUSIONS: PPS subjects are more prone to fatigue and have more physical mobility problems than non-PPS subjects. In former polio patients, measurements of perceived health problems and performance tests are the most appropriate instruments for functional evaluation

Strength of leg muscles in human – effects of coactivation of antagonistic muscles


This research was part of work completed by the brilliant PhD student, Costis Maganaris (now a full Professor in Liverpool), who was supervised by Professor Vasilios Baltzopoulos and Anthony Sargeant.

Differences in human antagonistic ankle dorsiflexor coactivation between legs; can they explain the moment deficit in the weaker plantarflexor leg


Experimental Physiology
Exp Physiol. 1998 Nov;83(6):843-55
The present study examined the hypothesis that the antagonistic ankle dorsiflexor coactivation level during maximum isometric voluntary plantarflexion (MVC) is a function of ankle angle.
Six male subjects generated plantarflexion and dorsiflexion MVC trials at ankle angles of -15 deg (dorsiflexed direction), 0 deg (neutral position), +15 deg (plantarflexed direction) and +30 deg having the knee flexed at an angle of 90 deg. In all contractions surface EMG measurements were taken from tibialis anterior and soleus which were considered representative muscles of all dorsiflexors and plantarflexors, respectively. Antagonistic dorsiflexor coactivation was expressed as normalized EMG and moment. Calculations of the antagonistic dorsiflexor moment were based on the tibialis anterior EMG-dorsiflexor moment relationship from contractions at 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 % of the dorsiflexion MVC moment.
In both legs dorsiflexor coactivation level followed an open U-shaped pattern as a function of ankle angle. Differences of 9 and 14 % (P < 0.05) were found in the measured net plantarflexion MVC moment between legs at ankle angles of -15 and +30 deg, respectively. No difference (P > 0.05) was found in the calf circumference between legs. Differences were found in the antagonistic dorsiflexor coactivation between legs at ankle angles of -15 and +30 deg. In the weaker leg the antagonistic EMG measurements were higher by 100 and 45 % (P < 0.01) and the estimated antagonistic moments were higher by 70 and 43 % (P < 0.01) compared with the weaker leg at -15 and +30 deg, respectively. This finding was associated with a decreased range of motion (ROM) in the weaker leg (14 %, P < 0.01), such that no difference (P > 0.05) was found in dorsiflexor antagonistic coactivation between legs at end-range ankle angles.
The findings of the study
(i) have to be taken into consideration when estimating musculoskeletal loads in the lower extremity,
(ii) imply that stretching training can result in a stronger plantarflexion at end-range ankle angles through inhibition of the dorsiflexors, and
(iii) imply a neural drive inadequacy during a plantarflexion MVC at end-range angles

In vivo measurements of the triceps surae complex architecture in man: implications for muscle function


Costis Maganaris was a brilliant PhD student (now Professor) supervised by Vasilios Baltzopoulos and Professor Anthony J Sargeant. This important study published in Journal of Physiology investigated how changes in muscle architecture during muscle contraction of human triceps surae muscle complex can distort calculations of mechanical output.

In vivo measurements of the triceps surae complex architecture in man: implications for muscle function

Constantinos N Maganaris, Vasilios Baltzopoulos, Anthony J Sargeant.

Journal of Physiology
J Physiol. 1998 Oct 15;512 ( Pt 2):603-14
1. The objectives of this study were to (1) quantify experimentally in vivo changes in pennation angle, fibre length and muscle thickness in the triceps surae complex in man in response to changes in ankle position and isometric plantarflexion moment and (2) compare changes in the above muscle architectural characteristics occurring in the transition from rest to a given isometric plantarflexion intensity with the estimations of a planimetric muscle model assuming constant thickness and straight muscle fibres.
2. The gastrocnemius medialis (GM), gastrocnemius lateralis (GL) and soleus (SOL) muscles of six males were scanned with ultrasonography at different sites along and across the muscle belly at rest and during maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) trials at ankle angles of -15 deg (dorsiflexed direction), 0 deg (neutral position), +15 deg (plantarflexed direction) and +30 deg. Additional images were taken at 80, 60, 40 and 20% of MVC at an ankle angle of 0 deg.
3. In all three muscles and all scanned sites, as ankle angle increased from -15 to +30 deg, pennation increased (by 6-12 deg, 39-67%, P < 0.01 at rest and 9-16 deg, 29-43%, P < 0.01 during MVC) and fibre length decreased (by 15-28 mm, 32-34%, P < 0.01 at rest and 8-10 mm, 27-30%, P < 0.05 during MVC). Thickness in GL and SOL increased during MVC compared with rest (by 5-7 mm, 36-47%, P < 0.01 in GL and 6-7 mm, 38-47%, P < 0.01 in SOL) while thickness of GM did not differ (P > 0.05) between rest and MVC.
4. At any given ankle angle the model underestimated changes in GL and SOL occurring in the transition from rest to MVC in pennation angle (by 9-12 deg, 24-38%, P < 0.01 in GL and 9-14 deg, 25-28%, P < 0.01 in SOL) and fibre length (by 6-15 mm, 22-39%, P < 0.01 in GL and 6-8 mm, 23-24%, P < 0.01 in SOL).
5. The findings of the study indicate that the mechanical output of muscle as estimated by the model used may be unrealistic due to errors in estimating the changes in muscle architecture during contraction compared with rest