A new paradigm of neuromuscular electrical stimulation for the quadriceps femoris muscle

Abstract

Purpose

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) with large electrodes and multiple current pathways (m-NMES) has recently been proposed as a valid alternative to conventional NMES (c-NMES) for quadriceps muscle (re)training. The main aim of this study was to compare discomfort, evoked force and fatigue between m-NMES and c-NMES of the quadriceps femoris muscle in healthy subjects.

Methods

Ten healthy subjects completed two experimental sessions (c-NMES and m-NMES), that were randomly presented in a cross-over design. Maximal electrically evoked force at pain threshold, self-reported discomfort at different levels of evoked force, and fatigue-induced force declines during and following a series of 20 NMES contractions were compared between c-NMES and m-NMES.

Results

m-NMES resulted in greater evoked force (P < 0.05) and lower discomfort in comparison to c-NMES (P < 0.05–0.001), but fatigue time course and magnitude did not differ between the two conditions.

Conclusions

The use of quadriceps m-NMES appears legitimate for (re)training purposes because it generated stronger contractions and was less discomfortable than c-NMES (due to multiple current pathways and/or lower current density with larger electrodes).

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Abbreviations

c-NMES:

Conventional neuromuscular electrical stimulation

m-NMES:

Multipath neuromuscular electrical stimulation

MVC:

Maximal voluntary contraction

NMES:

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation

SD:

Standard deviation

VAS:

Visual analogue scale

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Bio-Medical Research Ltd. (Galway, Ireland) for logistical support during the experimental phase of the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest regarding this study.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nicola A. Maffiuletti.

Additional information

Communicated by Toshio Moritani.

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Maffiuletti, N.A., Vivodtzev, I., Minetto, M.A. et al. A new paradigm of neuromuscular electrical stimulation for the quadriceps femoris muscle. Eur J Appl Physiol 114, 1197–1205 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-2849-2

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Keywords

  • Quadriceps
  • Discomfort
  • Evoked force
  • Fatigue