Tongue-placed tactile biofeedback suppresses the deleterious effects of muscle fatigue on joint position sense at the ankle
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Whereas the acuity of the position sense at the ankle can be disturbed by muscle fatigue, it recently also has been shown to be improved, under normal ankle neuromuscular state, through the use of an artificial tongue-placed tactile biofeedback. The underlying principle of this biofeedback consisted of supplying individuals with supplementary information about the position of their matching ankle position relative to their reference ankle position through electrotactile stimulation of the tongue. Within this context, the purpose of the present experiment was to investigate whether this biofeedback could mitigate the deleterious effect of muscle fatigue on joint position sense at the ankle. To address this objective, sixteen young healthy university students were asked to perform an active ankle-matching task in two conditions of No-fatigue and Fatigue of the ankle muscles and two conditions of No-biofeedback and Biofeedback. Measures of the overall accuracy and the variability of the positioning were determined using the absolute error and the variable error, respectively. Results showed that the availability of the biofeedback allowed the subjects to suppress the deleterious effects of muscle fatigue on joint position sense at the ankle. In the context of sensory re-weighting process, these findings suggested that the central nervous system was able to integrate and increase the relative contribution of the artificial tongue-placed tactile biofeedback to compensate for a proprioceptive degradation at the ankle.
KeywordsSensory re-weighting Biofeedback Proprioception Muscle fatigue Tongue display unit Ankle
The authors are indebted to Professor Paul Bach-y-Rita for introducing us to the Tongue Display Unit and for discussions about sensory substitution. Paul has been for us more than a partner or a supervisor: he was a master inspiring numerous new fields of research in many domains of neuroscience, biomedical engineering and physical rehabilitation. The authors would like to thank subject volunteers. Special thanks also are extended to Damien Flammarion and Sylvain Maubleu for technical assistance, Benjamin Bouvier for his help in data collection, Dr. Vince and Zora B. for various contributions. This research was supported by the Fondation Garches and the company IDS.
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