alexa Adaptation to destabilizing dynamics by means of muscle cocontraction.
Physicaltherapy & Rehabilitation

Physicaltherapy & Rehabilitation

Journal of Novel Physiotherapies

Author(s): Milner TE

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Abstract Adaptive control of wrist mechanics was investigated by means of destabilizing dynamics created by a torque motor. Subjects performed a 20 degrees movement to a 3 degrees target under the constraint that no motion should occur outside of the target zone once 800 ms had elapsed from movement onset. This constraint served as the minimum acceptable level of postural stability. The ability of subjects to modify their muscle activation patterns in order to successfully achieve this stability was investigated by creating three types of destabilizing dynamics with markedly different features: negative stiffness, negative damping, and square-wave vibration. Subjects performed sets of trials with the first type of destabilizing dynamics and were then required to adapt to the second and third. The adaptive response was quantified in terms of the rms electromyographic (EMG) activity recorded during various phases of the task. Surface EMG activity was recorded from three muscles contributing to wrist flexion and three muscles contributing to wrist extension. With negative stiffness, a significant compensatory increase in cocontraction of wrist flexor and extensor muscles was observed for slow movements, but there was little change in the muscle activity for rapid movements. With negative damping, muscle cocontraction was elevated to stabilize rapid movements, declining only gradually after the target was reached. For slow movements, cocontraction occurred only when negative damping was high. The response to square-wave vibration (10 Hz, +/-0.5 Nm), beginning at movement onset, was similar to that of negative damping, in that it resulted in elevated cocontraction. However, because the vibration persisted after the target was reached, there was no subsequent decrease in muscle activity. When the frequency was reduced to 5.5 Hz, but with the same torque impulse, cocontraction increased. This is consistent with greater mechanical instability. In summary, agonist-antagonist cocontraction was adapted to the stability of the task. This generally resulted in less of a change in muscle activity during the movement phase, when the task was performed quickly compared with slowly. On the other hand, the change in muscle activity during stabilization depended more on the nature of the instability than the movement speed. This article was published in Exp Brain Res and referenced in Journal of Novel Physiotherapies

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