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J Neurol. 1989 May;236(4):231-7.

Measurement of tendon reflexes by surface electromyography in normal subjects.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


A simple method for measuring the tendon reflexes was developed. A manually operated, electronic reflex hammer was applied that enabled measurement of the strength of tendon taps. Reflex responses were recorded by surface electromyography. Stimulus-response relations and latencies of tendon reflexes in the biceps, triceps, quadriceps and triceps surae were examined in 40 healthy subjects. A characteristic relation between stimulus strength and response amplitude was found which could be described by an empirical function. Latencies of both arm and leg reflexes were linearly related to the height of the subjects. Variations of reflex amplitudes within and between subjects were comparable with previous results obtained with more complicated techniques. Although repeatability of measurement of the amplitude is limited by the variability of reflexes, significant agreement was found between repeated measurements. Most reflex amplitudes were diminished during repeated examination after a short interval. Both measurement and clinical examination showed the frequent occurrence of left-right asymmetry of reflex amplitudes. These left-right differences were reproducible to a significant degree on repeated measurements after more than 2 years.

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