The slope of the EMG-torque relation is potentially useful as a parameter related to muscular contraction efficiency, as a greater EMG-torque slope has often been reported in stroke-impaired muscles, compared to intact muscles. One major barrier limiting the use of this parameter on a routine basis is that we do not know how the EMG-torque slope is affected by changing joint angles. Thus, the primary purpose of this study is to characterize the EMG-torque relations of triceps surae muscles at different ankle joint angles in both paretic and non-paretic limbs of chronic hemispheric stroke survivors. Nine male chronic stroke survivors were asked to perform isometric plantarflexion contractions at different contraction intensities and at five different ankle joint angles, ranging from maximum plantarflexion to maximum dorsiflexion. Our results showed that the greater slope of the EMG-torque relations was found on the paretic side compared to the non-paretic side at comparable ankle joint angles. The EMG-torque slope increased as the ankle became plantarflexed on both sides, but an increment of the EMG-torque slope (i.e., the coefficient a) was significantly greater on the paretic side. Moreover, the relative (non-paretic/paretic) coefficient a was also strongly correlated with the relative (paretic/non-paretic) maximum ankle plantarflexion torque and with shear wave speed in the medial gastrocnemius muscle. Conversely, the relative coefficient a was not well-correlated with the relative muscle thickness. Our findings suggest that muscular contraction efficiency is affected by hemispheric stroke, but in an angle-dependent and non-uniform manner. These findings may allow us to explore the relative contributions of neural factors and muscular changes to voluntary force generating-capacity after stroke.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- EMG-torque relation
- force-length relation
- muscle weakness
- muscular contraction efficiency