Surface action potentials related to torque output in paraplegics' electrically stimulated quadriceps muscle.


We recorded in 15 complete paraplegic patients the torque output and the surface action potentials (SAP) produced by the electrically stimulated quadriceps muscle during an isometric contraction lasting 126 s. We studied the evolution during the test of the peak to peak amplitude, the latency from the onset of stimulation, the rising time to peak, the peak to peak duration, the area of the recorded SAPs and we tried to relate those data to the torque production. Results were extremely different among patients but the general behaviour facing this test was comparable. After a short increase the mechanical output decreased and reached a plateau (range from 7.13 to 53.5% of initial value). The peak to peak amplitude first increased and then decreased, and was not related to the torque production. The latency, the rising time to peak and the peak to peak duration continuously increased to a maximum and then plateaued or slightly decreased after different courses of time. The latency from the onset of stimulation was less affected by the test than the rising time to peak and the peak to peak duration. Therefore, the nerve conduction velocity and the neuromuscular junction transmission did not vary to a great extent compared to the muscle fibre conduction velocity. The area of the rectified SAPs first increased and then decreased and was not related to the torque decrease.