Understanding corticomotor mechanisms for activation of non-target muscles during unilateral isometric contractions of leg muscles after stroke

Brice T. Cleland, Matt Giffhorn, Arun Jayaraman, Sangeetha Madhavan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Muscle activation often occurs in muscles ipsilateral to a voluntarily activated muscle and to a greater extent after stroke. In this study, we measured muscle activation in non-target, ipsilateral leg muscles and used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to provide insight into whether corticomotor pathways contribute to involuntary activation. Materials and methods: Individuals with stroke performed unilateral isometric ankle dorsiflexion, ankle plantarflexion, knee extension, and knee flexion. To quantify involuntary muscle activation in non-target muscles, muscle activation was measured during contractions from the ipsilateral tibialis anterior (TA), medial gastrocnemius (MG), rectus femoris (RF), and biceps femoris (BF) and normalized to resting muscle activity. To provide insight into mechanisms of involuntary non-target muscle activation, TMS was applied to the contralateral hemisphere, and motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded. Results: We found significant muscle activation in nearly every non-target muscle during isometric unilateral contractions. MEPs were frequently observed in non-target muscles, but greater non-target MEP amplitude was not associated with greater non-target muscle activation. Conclusions: Our results suggest that non-target muscle activation occurs frequently in individuals with chronic stroke. The lack of association between non-target TMS responses and non-target muscle activation suggests that non-target muscle activation may have a subcortical or spinal origin. Non-target muscle activation has important clinical implications because it may impair torque production, out-of-synergy movement, and muscle activation timing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • electromyography
  • lower extremity
  • motor activity
  • Stroke
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience

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