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Exploring the peripheral mechanisms of lower limb immobilisation on muscle function using novel electrophysiological methods

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Objective: To explore the effects of short-term immobilisation and subsequent retraining on peripheral nervous system (PNS) measures using two novel electrophysiological methods, muscle velocity recovery cycles (MVRC) and MScanFit motor unit number estimation (MUNE) alongside lower limb muscle strength, muscle imaging and walking capacity. Methods: Twelve healthy participants underwent 1-week of ankle immobilisation and 2-weeks of retraining. Assessments before and after immobilisation, and after retraining, included MVRC [muscle membrane properties; muscle relative refractory period (MRRP), early and late supernormality], MScanFit, MRI-scans [muscle contractile cross-sectional area (cCSA)], isokinetic dynamometry [dorsal and plantar flexor muscle strength], and 2-minute maximal walk test [physical function]. Results: After immobilisation, compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude reduced (-1.35[-2.00;-0.69]mV); mean change [95%CI]) alongside reductions in plantar (but not dorsal) flexor muscle cCSA (-124[-246;3]mm2), dorsal flexor muscle strength (isometric −0.06[-0.10;-0.02]Nm/kg, dynamicslow −0.08[-0.11;-0.04]Nm/kg, dynamicfast no changes), plantar flexor muscle strength (isometric −0.20[-0.30;-0.10]Nm/kg, dynamicslow −0.19[-0.28;-0.09]Nm/kg, dynamicfast −0.12[-0.19;-0.05]Nm/kg) and walking capacity (-31[-39;–23]m). After retraining, all immobilisation-affected parameters returned to baseline levels. In contrast, neither MScanFit nor MVRC were affected apart from slightly prolonged MRRP in gastrocnemius. Conclusions: PNS do not contribute to the changes observed in muscle strength and walking capacity. Significance: Further studies should include both corticospinal and peripheral mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

    Research areas

  • Disuse, Immobilisation, Inactivity, MRI, MScanFit MUNE, MVRC, Neuromuscular function, Neurophysiology

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