Increased spinal reflex excitability is associated with enhanced central activation during voluntary lengthening contractions in human spinal cord injury

Hyosub E. Kim, Daniel M. Corcos, T. George Hornby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study of chronic incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) subjects investigated patterns of central motor drive (i.e., central activation) of the plantar flexors using interpolated twitches, and modulation of soleus H-reflexes during lengthening, isometric, and shortening muscle actions. In a recent study of the knee extensors, SCI subjects demonstrated greater central activation ratio (CAR) values during lengthening (i.e., eccentric) maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs), compared with during isometric or shortening (i.e., concentric) MVCs. In contrast, healthy controls demonstrated lower lengthening CAR values com-pared with their isometric and shortening CARs. For the present investigation, we hypothesized SCI subjects would again produce their highest CAR values during lengthening MVCs, and that these increases in central activation were partially attributable to greater efficacy of Ia-α motoneuron transmission during muscle lengthening following SCI. Results show SCI subjects produced higher CAR values during lengthening vs. isometric or shortening MVCs (all P 0.001). H-reflex testing revealed normalized H-reflexes (maximal SOL H-reflex-to-maximal M-wave ratios) were greater for SCI than controls during passive (P 0.023) and active (i.e., 75% MVC; P 0.017) lengthening, suggesting facilitation of Ia transmission post-SCI. Additionally, measures of spinal reflex excitability (passive lengthening maximal SOL H-reflex-to-maxi-mal M-wave ratio) in SCI were positively correlated with soleus electromyographic activity and CAR values during lengthening MVCs (both P 0.05). The present study presents evidence that patterns of dynamic muscle activation are altered following SCI, and that greater central activation during lengthening contractions is partly due to enhanced efficacy of Ia-α motoneuron transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA32
Pages (from-to)427-439
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Volume114
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Keywords

  • Central activation ratio
  • Eccentric contractions
  • H-reflex
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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