Selective bilateral activation of leg muscles after cutaneous nerve stimulation during backward walking

Wouter Hoogkamer, Firas Massaad, Karen Jansen, Sjoerd M Bruijn, Jacques Duysens

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Abstract

    During human locomotion, cutaneous reflexes have been suggested to function to preserve balance. Specifically, cutaneous reflexes in the contralateral leg's muscles (with respect to the stimulus) were suggested to play an important role in maintaining stability during locomotor tasks where stability is threatened. We used backward walking (BW) as a paradigm to induce unstable gait and analyzed the cutaneous reflex activity in both ipsilateral and contralateral lower limb muscles after stimulation of the sural nerve at different phases of the gait cycle. In BW, the tibialis anterior (TA) reflex activity in the contralateral leg was markedly higher than TA background EMG activity during its stance phase. In addition, in BW a substantial reflex suppression was observed in the ipsilateral biceps femoris during the stance-swing transition in some participants, while for medial gastrocnemius the reflex activity was equal to background activity in both legs. To test whether the pronounced crossed responses in TA could be related to instability, the responses were correlated with measures of stability (short-term maximum Lyapunov exponents and step width). These measures were higher for BW compared with forward walking, indicating that BW is less stable. However, there was no significant correlation between these measures and the amplitude of the crossed TA responses in BW. It is therefore proposed that these crossed responses are related to an attempt to briefly slow down (TA decelerates the center of mass in the single-stance period) in the light of unexpected perturbations, such as provided by the sural nerve stimulation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1933-41
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
    Volume108
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

    Fingerprint

    Walking
    Leg
    Reflex
    Muscles
    Skin
    Sural Nerve
    Gait
    Locomotion
    Lower Extremity

    Keywords

    • Adult
    • Electromyography
    • Female
    • Gait
    • Humans
    • Leg
    • Male
    • Muscle, Skeletal
    • Reflex
    • Sural Nerve
    • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation
    • Walking
    • Journal Article
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

    Cite this

    Hoogkamer, Wouter ; Massaad, Firas ; Jansen, Karen ; Bruijn, Sjoerd M ; Duysens, Jacques. / Selective bilateral activation of leg muscles after cutaneous nerve stimulation during backward walking. In: Journal of Neurophysiology. 2012 ; Vol. 108, No. 7. pp. 1933-41.
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    Selective bilateral activation of leg muscles after cutaneous nerve stimulation during backward walking. / Hoogkamer, Wouter; Massaad, Firas; Jansen, Karen; Bruijn, Sjoerd M; Duysens, Jacques.

    In: Journal of Neurophysiology, Vol. 108, No. 7, 10.2012, p. 1933-41.

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    T1 - Selective bilateral activation of leg muscles after cutaneous nerve stimulation during backward walking

    AU - Hoogkamer, Wouter

    AU - Massaad, Firas

    AU - Jansen, Karen

    AU - Bruijn, Sjoerd M

    AU - Duysens, Jacques

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    N2 - During human locomotion, cutaneous reflexes have been suggested to function to preserve balance. Specifically, cutaneous reflexes in the contralateral leg's muscles (with respect to the stimulus) were suggested to play an important role in maintaining stability during locomotor tasks where stability is threatened. We used backward walking (BW) as a paradigm to induce unstable gait and analyzed the cutaneous reflex activity in both ipsilateral and contralateral lower limb muscles after stimulation of the sural nerve at different phases of the gait cycle. In BW, the tibialis anterior (TA) reflex activity in the contralateral leg was markedly higher than TA background EMG activity during its stance phase. In addition, in BW a substantial reflex suppression was observed in the ipsilateral biceps femoris during the stance-swing transition in some participants, while for medial gastrocnemius the reflex activity was equal to background activity in both legs. To test whether the pronounced crossed responses in TA could be related to instability, the responses were correlated with measures of stability (short-term maximum Lyapunov exponents and step width). These measures were higher for BW compared with forward walking, indicating that BW is less stable. However, there was no significant correlation between these measures and the amplitude of the crossed TA responses in BW. It is therefore proposed that these crossed responses are related to an attempt to briefly slow down (TA decelerates the center of mass in the single-stance period) in the light of unexpected perturbations, such as provided by the sural nerve stimulation.

    AB - During human locomotion, cutaneous reflexes have been suggested to function to preserve balance. Specifically, cutaneous reflexes in the contralateral leg's muscles (with respect to the stimulus) were suggested to play an important role in maintaining stability during locomotor tasks where stability is threatened. We used backward walking (BW) as a paradigm to induce unstable gait and analyzed the cutaneous reflex activity in both ipsilateral and contralateral lower limb muscles after stimulation of the sural nerve at different phases of the gait cycle. In BW, the tibialis anterior (TA) reflex activity in the contralateral leg was markedly higher than TA background EMG activity during its stance phase. In addition, in BW a substantial reflex suppression was observed in the ipsilateral biceps femoris during the stance-swing transition in some participants, while for medial gastrocnemius the reflex activity was equal to background activity in both legs. To test whether the pronounced crossed responses in TA could be related to instability, the responses were correlated with measures of stability (short-term maximum Lyapunov exponents and step width). These measures were higher for BW compared with forward walking, indicating that BW is less stable. However, there was no significant correlation between these measures and the amplitude of the crossed TA responses in BW. It is therefore proposed that these crossed responses are related to an attempt to briefly slow down (TA decelerates the center of mass in the single-stance period) in the light of unexpected perturbations, such as provided by the sural nerve stimulation.

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    KW - Electromyography

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    KW - Gait

    KW - Humans

    KW - Leg

    KW - Male

    KW - Muscle, Skeletal

    KW - Reflex

    KW - Sural Nerve

    KW - Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation

    KW - Walking

    KW - Journal Article

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    ER -