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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Feb;106(2):701-10. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01051.2007. Epub 2008 Aug 28.

Comparison of electrical and magnetic stimulations to assess quadriceps muscle function.

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  • 1Joseph Fourier University, France.


This study aimed to 1) compare electrical and magnetic stimulations for quadriceps muscle function assessment, and 2) ascertain whether the ratios of the second twitch elicited by supramaximal electrical and magnetic femoral nerve stimulation at 10 and 100 Hz (T2(10:100)) and the total twitch force elicited by the same types of stimulations (Fpaired(10:100)) are equivalent to the standard low- to high-frequency force ratio associated with submaximal electrical tetanic stimulations (Ftet(10:100)). Quadriceps force and vastus lateralis EMG were recorded at rest (n = 21 subjects), immediately after, and 30 min after a 30-min downhill run (n = 10) when 1) supramaximal electrical nerve stimulation (ENS), 2) magnetic nerve stimulation (MNS) and 3) submaximal electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) were delivered in random order at 1 (single stimulation), 10, and 100 Hz (paired stimulations). Ten- and 100-Hz 500-ms tetani were also evoked with EMS to determine Ftet(10:100). Before exercise, contractile properties with single and paired stimulations were similar for ENS and MNS (all intraclass correlation coefficients k > 0.90), but smaller for EMS (P < 0.001). M-wave characteristics were also similar for ENS and MNS (all k > 0.90). After exercise, changes in all parameters did not differ between methods. With fatigue, the changes in Ftet(10:100) were inconsistently correlated with the changes in T2(10:100) (r(2) = 0.24-0.73, P = 0.002-0.15) but better correlated with the changes in Fpaired(10:100) (immediately after exercise: r(2) = 0.80-0.83, P < 0.001; 30 min after exercise: r(2) = 0.46-0.82, P = 0.001-0.03). We conclude that ENS and MNS provide similar quadriceps muscle function assessment, while Fpaired(10:100) is a better index than T2(10:100) of low- to high-frequency fatigue of the quadriceps in vivo.

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