Short-TERM Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Training of the Tibialis Anterior Did Not Improve Strength and Motor Function in Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy Patients

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Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects on motor function, muscle strength, and endurance of short-term neuromuscular electrical stimulation training of the tibialis anterior muscles in patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 1 (FSHD1) in comparison with healthy controls.

Design

This prospective study included 10 patients with FSHD1 and 10 healthy participants. Maximal voluntary isometric contraction of ankle dorsiflexion and a 2-min sustained dorsiflexion maximal voluntary contraction with surface electromyography recordings of the tibialis anterior and the soleus muscles were measured and motor function clinical tests were performed before and after the training period.

Results

No significant short term training effect was found in any of the investigated variables for either group, although a tendency towards an increase was noted for the manual muscle testing of the FSHD1. Patients with FSHD1 showed lower maximal voluntary contraction force and lower maximal tibialis anterior surface electromyography amplitude than healthy participants. During the 2-min sustained maximal voluntary contraction, the percentage of force loss was lower for the FSHD1 patients, suggesting that they were experiencing a lower amount of muscle fatigue compared to the healthy participant group.

Conclusion

The present neuromuscular electrical stimulation protocol was not strenuous enough and/or the parameters of stimulation were not adequate to improve dorsiflexion strength, muscle endurance, and motor function in FSHD1 patients and healthy participants.

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