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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1995;384:227-40.

Variable-frequency stimulation patterns for the optimization of force during muscle fatigue. Muscle wisdom and the catch-like property.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, University of Delaware, Newark 19716, USA.


Muscle wisdom is the process whereby the activation rates of motor units are modulated by the central nervous system to optimize the force during sustained voluntary contractions. During maximal voluntary contractions the activation rates decline as the muscle fatigues. No similar decline has been observed during submaximal contractions. Subsequent chapters explore the potential mechanisms for muscle wisdom. In this chapter, a historical background on the development of ideas on muscle wisdom is first presented. Next, artificial wisdom, the procedure used to optimize force during an electrically imposed tetanus by progressively reducing the stimulation frequency as the muscle fatigues, is discussed. Finally, recent studies are described in which fatigue was delayed and reduced by the use of variable-frequency stimulus trains that elicit the catch-like property of muscle.

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