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Muscle Nerve. 2005 May;31(5):581-8.

Switching stimulation patterns improves performance of paralyzed human quadriceps muscle.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Biomechanics and Movement Science, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA.


The clinical efficacy of functional electrical stimulation (FES) is limited by the rapid onset of fatigue. Functional electrical stimulation applications typically stimulate skeletal muscles with constant-frequency trains (CFTs). Our laboratory has identified trains that we call doublet-frequency trains (DFTs) and that produce greater forces than CFTs, but more fatigue during repetitive activation than comparable CFTs. The purpose of this study was to see whether a series of CFTs followed by DFTs would reach a targeted isometric peak force more times than either train type alone during repetitive isometric activation of the paralyzed quadriceps muscles of subjects with spinal cord injuries (SCI). The combination of CFTs followed by DFTs reached the targeted isometric force 14% more often than the CFTs alone and 18% more often than the DFTs alone. These findings confirm that switching train types may be a useful strategy to offset the rapid fatigue of the functionally important quadriceps muscle that persons with SCI experience when using FES.

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