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Bente R. Jensen, Line Hovgaard-Hansen and Katrine L. Cappelen

Running on a lower-body positive-pressure (LBPP) treadmill allows effects of weight support on leg muscle activation to be assessed systematically, and has the potential to facilitate rehabilitation and prevent overloading. The aim was to study the effect of running with weight support on leg muscle activation and to estimate relative knee and ankle joint forces. Runners performed 6-min running sessions at 2.22 m/s and 3.33 m/s, at 100%, 80%, 60%, 40%, and 20% body weight (BW). Surface electromyography, ground reaction force, and running characteristics were measured. Relative knee and ankle joint forces were estimated. Leg muscles responded differently to unweighting during running, reflecting different relative contribution to propulsion and antigravity forces. At 20% BW, knee extensor EMGpeak decreased to 22% at 2.22 m/s and 28% at 3.33 m/s of 100% BW values. Plantar flexors decreased to 52% and 58% at 20% BW, while activity of biceps femoris muscle remained unchanged. Unweighting with LBPP reduced estimated joint force significantly although less than proportional to the degree of weight support (ankle).It was concluded that leg muscle activation adapted to the new biomechanical environment, and the effect of unweighting on estimated knee force was more pronounced than on ankle force.

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Martin H. Rose, Annemette Løkkegaard, Stig Sonne-Holm and Bente R. Jensen

We investigated lower-extremity isometric tremor Approximate Entropy (irregularity), torque steadiness and rate of force development (RFD) and their associations to muscle activation strategy during isometric knee extensions in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Thirteen male patients with idiopathic PD and 15 neurologically healthy matched controls performed isometric maximal contractions (extension/flexion) as well as steady submaximal and powerful isometric knee extensions. The patients with PD showed decreased isometric tremor irregularity. Torque steadiness was reduced in PD and the patients had increased muscle coactivation. A markedly lower RFD was found in PD and the decreased RFD correlated with reduced agonist muscle activation. Furthermore, patient RFD correlated with the Movement-Disorder-Society-Unified-Parkinson’s-Disease-Rating-Scale 3 (motor part) scores. We concluded that both knee isometric tremor Approximate Entropy and torque steadiness clearly differentiate between patients with PD and healthy controls. Furthermore, severely compromised RFD was found in patients with PD and was associated with decreased agonist muscle activation.

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Anne Sofie B. Malling, Bo M. Morberg, Lene Wermuth, Ole Gredal, Per Bech and Bente R. Jensen

The authors examined the associations between the performance of upper- and lower-extremity motor tasks across task complexity and motor symptom severity, overall disease severity, and the physical aspects of quality of life in persons with Parkinson’s disease. The performance was assessed for three lower-extremity tasks and two upper-extremity tasks of different levels of complexity. The motor symptoms and overall disease severity correlated significantly with all motor tasks with higher correlation coefficients in the complex tasks. Thus, the strength of the association between disease severity or severity of motor symptoms and motor performance is task-specific, with higher values in complex motor tasks than in simpler motor tasks. Mobility-related and activity-of-daily-living-related quality of life correlated with lower-extremity tasks of low and medium complexity and with the complex upper-extremity task, respectively; this suggests that Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 is capable of differentiating between the impact of gross and fine motor function on quality of life.