Recruitment properties of intramuscular and nerve-trunk stimulating electrodes

IEEE Trans Rehabil Eng. 2000 Sep;8(3):276-85.


Functionally useful reanimation of paralyzed limbs generally requires reliable, finely graded control of muscle recruitment and force with minimal fatigue. We used force and electromyographic (EMG) recordings in combination with myofibrillar adenosine triphosphatase activity and glycogen depletion analysis to investigate the recruitment properties of intramuscular (IM) and nerve cuff (NC) stimulating electrodes implanted acutely or chronically in cat hindlimbs. Overall, 32 muscles were submaximally stimulated with current intensities producing approximately 20% of maximal twitch force using 330 ms trains of pulses at 20 and 40 pps. Both the glycogen-depletion and fatigue-test results were found to be difficult to interpret because NC stimulation resulted in surprisingly unstable recruitment during such trains. Fluctuations of force and M-waves within trains of identical stimuli were significantly greater for NC than for IM stimulation. NC stimulation produced much steeper recruitment curves and a reduced tetanus/twitch ratio compared to IM stimulation. IM stimulation produced more reliable and less fatigable recruitment of a mix of motor unit types that tended to be localized in neuromuscular compartments containing, or adjacent to, the IM electrode. We hypothesize that trains of submaximal stimulation applied through NC electrodes resulted in fluctuating recruitment because this electrode configuration magnifies the effects of refractoriness and small changes in axonal excitability during pulse trains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / analysis
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / adverse effects
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods
  • Electrodes, Implanted / standards*
  • Electromyography
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Glycogen / analysis
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Hindlimb / innervation*
  • Hindlimb / metabolism
  • Hindlimb / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Materials Testing
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Myofibrils / metabolism
  • Myofibrils / physiology
  • Paralysis / metabolism
  • Paralysis / physiopathology*
  • Paralysis / rehabilitation*
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / physiology*
  • Sciatic Nerve / metabolism
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiopathology*


  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Glycogen