Agreement Between Investigators Using Paired-Pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Assess Quadriceps Intracortical Excitability

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may provide important information regarding the corticospinal mechanisms that may contribute to the neuromuscular activation impairments. Paired-pulse TMS testing is a reliable method for measuring intracortical facilitation and inhibition; however, little evidence exists regarding agreement of these measures in the quadriceps. Objective: To determine the between-sessions and interrater agreement of intracortical excitability (short- and long-interval intracortical inhibition [SICI, LICI] and intracortical facilitation [ICF]) in the dominant-limb quadriceps. Design: Reliability study. Setting: Research laboratory. Participants: 13 healthy volunteers (n = 6 women; age 24.7 ± 2.1 y; height 1.7 ± 0.1 m; mass 77.1 ± 17.4 kg). Intervention: Participants completed 2 TMS sessions separated by 1 wk. Main Outcome Measures: Two investigators measured quadriceps SICI, LICI, and ICF at rest and actively (5% of maximal voluntary isometric contraction). All participants were seated in a dynamometer with the knee flexed to 90°. Intracortical-excitability paradigm and investigator order were randomized. Bland-Altman analyses were used to establish agreement. Results: Agreement was stronger between sessions within a single investigator than between investigators and for active than resting measures. Agreement was strongest for resting SICI and active ICF and LICI between sessions for each investigator. Conclusions: Quadriceps intracortical excitability may be measured longitudinally by a single investigator, though active muscle contraction should be elicited during testing.

Thomas is with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC. Pietrosimone is with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC. Bayer is with the Musculoskeletal Health and Movement Science Laboratory, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH.

Thomas (afenwick@uncc.edu) is corresponding author.
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