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Reduced short and long latency reflexes during voluntary tracking movement of the human wrist joint

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In six healthy human subjects we compared changes in the strength of Hoffmann (H), short latency (30–55 ms) and long latency (55–100 ms) stretch reflexes of flexor carpi radialis (FCR) muscle during movement and isometric contractions. In one set of experiments, stretches were imposed to the wrist during voluntarily tracked sinusoidal movement and during matched isometric contractions to compare short and long latency stretch reflex responses. In the second set, H-reflexes were compared during similar matched conditions. All reflexes decreased significantly (P < 0.05) during the voluntary tracking movement. The H-reflex was reduced during the wrist flexion, on average, by 33% of its value obtained during the isometric condition. Compared with their values during isometric conditions, the short latency stretch reflex and long latency stretch reflex during movement were reduced by 52 and 40%, respectively. From the pattern changes of the stretch reflexes and the H-reflex, a movement-induced presynaptic inhibition combined with pronounced muscle spindle unloading is proposed to play an important role in decreasing the strength of the stretch reflexes during the tracking task as compared with a matched isometric contraction.
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Keywords: H-reflex; human wrist; movement; short and long latency stretch reflexes; spindle unloading

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada 2: Center for Sensory–Motor Interaction, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

Publication date: 1999-11-01

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