Determining the effects of electrical stimulation on functional recovery of denervated rat gastrocnemius muscle using motor unit number estimation
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The use of electrical muscle stimulation to treat denervated muscle prior to delayed reinnervation has been widely debated. There is evidence showing both positive and negative results following different protocols of electrical stimulation. In this study we investigated the role electrical stimulation has on muscle reinnervation following immediate and delayed nerve repair using motor unit estimation techniques. Rat gastrocnemius muscle was denervated and repaired using the peroneal nerve either immediately or following three-months with and without electrical stimulation. Motor unit counts, average motor unit sizes, and maximum compound action potentials were measured three-months following peroneal nerve repair. Motor unit counts in animals that were denervated and stimulated were significantly higher than those that were denervated and not stimulated. Both average motor unit sizes and maximum compound action potentials showed no significant differences between denervated and denervated-stimulated animals. These results provide evidence that electrical stimulation prior to delayed nerve repair increases muscle receptivity to regenerating axons and may be a worthwhile treatment for peripheral nerve injuries.
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