The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential effects of key neuromuscular factors on muscle activation-force relationships, thereby helping us understand abnormal EMG-force relationships often reported in chronic stroke-impaired muscles. A modified Hill-type muscle model was developed to calculate muscle force production for a given muscle activation level and musculotendon length. Model parameters used to characterize musculotendon unit properties of medial gastrocnemius were adjusted to simulate known stroke-related changes in neuromuscular factors (e.g., voluntary activation and muscle mechanical properties). The muscle activation-force slope (i.e., muscle activation over force) was computed as a function of ankle joint angle. A Monte Carlo simulation approach was implemented to understand which neuromuscular factors are closely associated with the activation-force slope. Our simulations showed that a reduction in factors linked to voluntary activation capacity and to maximum force-generating capacity may be the primary contributors that increase the activation-force slope in dorsiflexed positions, and that a narrower active force–length curve appears to be the most significant factor that increases the slope in plantar flexed positions. In addition, our Monte Carlo simulation results demonstrated that an increase in the activation-force slope is strongly correlated with a reduction in voluntary activation capacity, in the maximum force-generating capacity, and in the active force–length curve width. These findings will help us to better interpret altered EMG-force relationships following chronic stroke.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Neurology
- EMG-force relationship
- Muscle weakness
- Muscular contraction efficiency
- Neuromuscular factor