Electrode position markedly affects knee torque in tetanic, stimulated contractions
The purpose of this study was to investigate how much the distance between stimulation electrodes affects the knee extension torque in tetanic, electrically elicited contractions.
Current pulses of progressively larger amplitude, from 0 mA to maximally tolerated intensities, were delivered at 20 pps to the vastus medialis, rectus femoris and vastus lateralis muscles of ten, healthy male subjects. Four inter-electrode distances were tested: 32.5 % (L1), 45.0 % (L2), 57.5 % (L3) and 70 % (L4) of the distance between the patella apex and the anterior superior iliac spine. The maximal knee extension torque and the current leading to the maximal torque were measured and compared between electrode configurations.
The maximal current tolerated by each participant ranged from 60 to 100 mA and did not depend on the inter-electrode distance. The maximal knee extension torque elicited did not differ between L3 and L4 (P = 0.15) but, for both conditions, knee torque was significantly greater than for L1 and L2 (P < 0.024). On average, the extension torque elicited for L3 and L4 was two to three times greater than that obtained for L1 and L2. The current leading to maximal torque was not as sensitive to inter-electrode distance. Except for L1 current intensity did not change with electrode configuration (P > 0.16).
Key results presented here revealed that for a given stimulation intensity, knee extension torque increased dramatically with the distance between electrodes. The distance between electrodes seems therefore to critically affect knee torque, with potential implication for optimising exercise protocols based on electrical stimulation.
KeywordsFunctional electrical stimulation Quadriceps muscle Electrode configuration Stimulation parameters
Analysis of variance
Line defining the distance between the patella apex and the anterior superior iliac spine
Highest extension torque
Functional electrical stimulation
Highest current intensity
This study was supported by Politecnico di Torino (student team Eng4Dis) and co-funded by Compagnia di San Paolo and Fondazione C.R.T.
Compliance with ethical standards
Politecnico di Torino (student team Eng4Dis), Compagnia di San Paolo and Fondazione C.R.T.
Conflict of interest
The authors report no conflict of interest.
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