Dissociation between mechanical and myoelectrical manifestation of muscle fatigue in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord. 2004 Mar;5(1):26-32. doi: 10.1080/14660820310017551.


Motor fatigue, during 30 seconds of maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) was simultaneously evaluated by the decline in mechanical force output, and from the compression in the power spectrum obtained from surface electromyogram (sEMG). Measurements were performed in patients diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and normal control (NC) in two muscle groups, elbow flexors (EF) and ankle dorsiflexors (DF). The decline in force output, as a manifestation of mechanical fatigue, was digitally calculated online by partitioning the force versus time curve to determine the percent of MVIC reduction over a 30 sec period and was expressed as force fatigue index (FFI). The compression in the sEMG power spectrum, as a manifestation of myoelectrical fatigue, was tracked by calculating the median frequency shift (MFS) from the first 5 sec to the last 5 sec of the 30 sec MVIC using digital Fast Fourier Transformation. In ALS patients, the significantly higher reduction in mechanical force output during the 30 sec MVIC (higher FFI) was accompanied with significantly less compression in the sEMG power spectrum (less MFS) as compared to NC (P < or =0.005) in the two muscle groups. This dissociation between the mechanical and myoelectrical manifestation of muscle fatigue in ALS indicates that a reduction in muscle fiber conduction velocity (MFCV) may be a contributing peripheral factor in the pathogenesis of muscle fatigue in ALS. Alterations in motor unit functionality, especially in type II fast motor unit muscle fibers, and structural damage in denervated muscle fibers may contribute to the lower MFCV during motor fatigue in ALS patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Ankle / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Elbow / physiopathology
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Exertion