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  • Author: Tom G. Welter x
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Tom G. Welter and Maarten F. Bobbert

This study investigates the hypothesis that EMG measured from a muscle at a given force, length, and low-shortening velocity depends on the contraction history, specifically the distance over which the muscle has shortened. Slow linear horizontal wrist movements (3 cm/s) involving shoulder and elbow rotations towards a test position of 90° elbow flexion were performed. REMG was measured at the test position after wrist displacements over 6.5 and 13 cm. Muscle contraction speed was below 1% of maximum. A constant force (25 N) causing flexion torque in the elbow was exerted by the wrist. Inertial load was minimal. Two main elbow flexors (biceps caput longum and breve) showed significantly higher (14 and 24%) concentric REMG after 13-cm wrist movement than alter 6.5-cm. Eccentric EMG did not differ between the 6.5-and 13-cm conditions. It is concluded that adaptation of muscle activation is required to counteract the effects of contraction history on the force producing capacity of the muscle.

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Tom G. Welter and Maarten F. Bobbert

We have investigated, in fast movements, the hypothesis that bi-articular muscles are preferentially selected to control me direction of force exerted on the environment, while mono-articular muscles are selected to control both this exerted force direction as well as the movement direction. Fourteen subjects performed ballistic arm movements involving shoulder and elbow rotations in the horizontal plane, either with or without an external force applied at the wrist. Joint torques required to counteract the external force were in the same order of magnitude as those required to overcome the inertial load during movements. EMG was recorded from mono- and bi-articular flexors and extensors of me elbow and shoulder. Signals were rectified and integrated (IREMG) over 100 ms following the first detected activity. MANOVA revealed mat, contrary to the hypothesis, IREMG of bi-articular muscles varied with movement direction just as that of the mono-articular muscles. It was concluded that the present data do not support me hypothesis mentioned above. A second finding was that movement effects on IREMG were much stronger than external force effects. This could not be explained using Hill's force-velocity relationship. It may be an indication that in the initiation of fast movements, IREMG is not only tuned to movement dynamics and muscle contractile properties, but also to me dynamics of the build up of an active state of the muscle.

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Tom G. Welter and Maarten F. Bobbert

It has been shown in previous research that the initial phase of EMG for a punching movement remained almost unchanged regardless of whether an external force was applied to the arm. The purpose of the present study was to explain this finding with the help of simulations. A two-dimensional model of me arm actuated by 6 Hill-type muscles was used to simulate a punching movement in the horizontal plane from a prescribed starting position with 90° elbow flexion. Input to the model was the stimulation of me muscles, and output were, among others, muscle forces and segmental accelerations. A genetic algorithm was used to determine the muscle onset times mat minimized movement duration and targeting error. In a subsequent forward simulation, the optimized muscle onset times for an unloaded punching movement were superimposed on the isometric stimulation necessary to hold me arm in the starting position while an external force was applied to the arm. The resulting movement was only slightly different from the unloaded movement. It appeared that because of the low level of isometric muscle force prior to the movement, and the high level of stimulation during the movement, muscle force was increased at a rate mat was almost independent of the prior force level. These results confirmed the suggestion that the initial phase of EMG in ballistic movements is more related to the rate of change of force than to the absolute force level. It is hypothesized mat this may simplify the task of the nervous system in the choice of initial muscle activity in ballistic arm movements because no adjustments to varying external forces are required.

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Tom G. Welter, Maarten F. Bobbert, Bauke M. van Bolhuis, Stan C.A.M. Gielen, Leonard A. Rozendaal and Dirkjan H.E.J. Veeger

We have investigated whether differences in EMG activity in mono- and bi-articuiar muscles for concentric and eccentric contractions (van Bolhuis, Gielen, & van Ingen Schenau, 1998) have to be attributed to a specific muscle coordination strategy or whether they are merely a demonstration of adaptations necessary to adjust for muscle contractile properties. Slow, multi-joint arm movements were studied in a horizontal plane with an external force applied at the wrist. Kinematics and electromyography data from 10 subjects were combined with data from a 3-D model of the arm and a Hill-type muscle model Data for both mono- and bi-articular muscles revealed a higher activation in concentric than in eccentric contractions. The model calculations indicated that the measured difference in activation (20%) was much larger than expected based on the force-velocity relationship (predicting changes of ~5%). Although these findings eliminate the force-velocity relationship as the main explanation for changes in EMG, it cannot be ruled out that other muscle contractile properties, such as history dependence of muscle force, determine muscle activation levels in the task that was studied.