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J Biophotonics. 2019 Mar;12(3):e201800320. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201800320. Epub 2019 Feb 1.

Muscle oxygenation dynamics in response to electrical stimulation as measured with near-infrared spectroscopy: A pilot study.

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Institute of Biomedical Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Critical Care Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
School of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Rehabilitation, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Physical Therapy Room, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Photonics, College of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is used for preventing muscle atrophy and improving muscle strength in patients and healthy people. However, the current intensity of NMES is usually set at a level that causes the stimulated muscles to contract. This typically causes pain. Quantifying the instantaneous changes in muscle microcirculation and metabolism during NMES before muscle contraction occurs is crucial, because it enables the current intensity to be optimally tuned, thereby reducing the NMES-induced muscle pain and fatigue. We applied near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to measure instantaneous tissue oxygenation and deoxygenation changes in 43 healthy young adults during NMES at 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 mA. Having been stabilized at the NIRS signal baseline, the tissue oxygenation and total hemoglobin concentration increased immediately after stimulation in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05) until stimulation was stopped at the level causing muscle contraction without pain. Tissue deoxygenation appeared relatively unchanged during NMES. We conclude that NIRS can be used to determine the optimal NMES current intensity by monitoring oxygenation changes.


muscle oxygenation dynamics; near-infrared spectroscopy; neuromuscular electrical stimulation; tissue optics


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