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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2012 Jun;26(5):533-41. doi: 10.1177/1545968311425925. Epub 2011 Dec 2.

Quadriceps muscle weakness, activation deficits, and fatigue with Parkinson disease.

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University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA.



People with Parkinson disease (PD) typically have complaints of weakness. The mechanisms underlying this deficit have not been well established, although many factors may contribute.


This investigation aimed to characterize quadriceps muscle weakness and activation failure in people with PD and explore whether these deficits were related to disease severity. The authors further sought to examine quadriceps muscle fatigability.


This was a cross-sectional comparison of 17 people with mild-severe PD and 17 healthy adults matched by age, sex, and body mass index (BMI). The Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor score (UPDRS motor) ranged from 9.5 to 61.0. Participants were divided into those with low-PD motor signs (UPDRS motor < 31.7) and high-PD motor signs (UPDRS motor ≥ 31.7). Measures of quadriceps performance included isometric torque, central activation using doublet interpolation, and an isokinetic fatigue test.


Participants with high-PD motor signs had significantly more quadriceps weakness and central activation deficits than those with low-PD motor signs or healthy controls. Strength and activation deficits correlated strongly with UPDRS motor score. Quadriceps muscle fatigue was present in healthy controls and in those with low-PD motor signs but not in those with high-PD motor signs.


These findings provide additional evidence for lower-extremity strength loss with PD; central activation deficits may account for some of the strength deficits, especially with increased PD motor signs. Also, muscle fatigue did not occur in individuals with a greater degree of PD motor signs, most likely because of insufficient central activation to allow for muscle overload to induce metabolic fatigue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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