Motor unit number estimates based on the automated analysis of F-responses
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An automated technique for estimating the number of motor units based on single motor unit action potentials in the F-response is described. The average surface detected motor unit action potential (S-MUAP) was calculated from the datapoint-by-datapoint average of a sample of S-MUAPs automatically selected from a population of F-responses. The technique was applied to the thenar muscles of young (n = 18, aged 31 +/- 11 years) and older (n = 15, aged 68 +/- 3) subjects. Motor unit number estimates based on the automated selection of S-MUAPs from the F-responses compared well with those derived using a computer-assisted manual method for selecting S-MUAPs from the F-response (automated 245 +/- 105 vs. manual 241 +/- 100, r = 0.93) and were similar to estimates obtained using multiple point stimulation (219 +/- 77). The advantages of the automated technique for collecting S-MUAPs from the F-response include the ready tolerance of the technique by subjects, the minimal amount of operator interaction required, and the additional information relating to the conduction velocities and latencies of single motor axons.
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