Effect of Ankle Angles on the Soleus H-Reflex Excitability During Standing

in Motor Control
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This study investigated effects of ankle joint angle on the Hoffman’s reflex (H-reflex) excitability during loaded (weight borne with both legs) and unloaded (full body weight borne with the contralateral leg) standing in people without neurological injuries. Soleus H-reflex/M-wave recruitment curves were examined during upright standing on three different slopes that imposed plantar flexion (−15°), dorsiflexion (+15°), and neutral (0°) angles at the ankle, with the test leg loaded and unloaded. With the leg loaded and unloaded, maximum H-reflex/maximum M-wave ratio of −15° was significantly larger than those of 0° and +15° conditions. The maximum H-reflex/maximum M-wave ratios were 51%, 43%, and 41% with loaded and 56%, 46%, and 44% with unloaded for −15°, 0°, and +15° slope conditions, respectively. Thus, limb loading/unloading had limited impact on the extent of influence that ankle angles exert on the H-reflex excitability. This suggests that task-dependent central nervous system control of reflex excitability may regulate the influence of sensory input on the spinal reflex during standing.

The authors are with the College of Health Professions, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.

Dutt-Mazumder (avi.dm16@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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