Short episodes of electrical stimulation were applied to the right quadriceps muscle of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy subjects at different times during 60 sec sustained voluntary muscle contractions at 0 to 100% levels of maximal voluntarily generated joint torque. The amplitude of electrically induced increments of torque (ΔT) has been shown to depend upon both the level of muscular contraction and time from the beginning of the contraction. The dependence of ΔT upon the time from the beginning of contraction has been assumed to reflect muscle fatigue. Patients with MS demonstrated an apparent involvement of central neurogenic mechanisms in fatigue manifested as a drop in muscle torque during sustained contractions at 75 and 100% levels when electrical stimulation was able to induce considerable increments in muscle torque. These patients also demonstrated a dependence of ΔT upon the contraction level suggesting that they did not produce maximal voluntary contraction torque in the pre-trial. Fatigue in MS is due to central, neurogenic factors and does not seem to involve any myogenic factors such as might be related to secondary muscle changes due to the long-standing disorder. The subjective feeling of tiredness ('fatigue') may be related to a dissociation between central motor commands ('effort') and their mechanical consequences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology