The effect of stimulus current pulse width on nerve fiber size recruitment patterns
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There have been theoretical studies presented that postulate a change in the stimulus current amplitude required to recruit nerve fibers with different stimulus current pulse widths. Based on these theoretical predictions, it has been suggested that the stimulus pulse width parameter may be used to selectively recruit fibers of different sizes and that this selectivity should increase with increasing distance from the stimulus electrode. In this paper, a simulation study of the recruitment patterns of a population of motor nerve fibers with a histologically accurate fiber diameter distribution is presented. Nerve fiber excitation simulations coupled with a time varying field simulation suggest that, for surface stimulation, there is only a marginal selectivity achievable in the average nerve fiber diameter that is recruited across the range of commonly used stimulus pulse widths but this selectivity also increases with increased electrode distance. Experimental evidence consisting of estimates of nerve fiber diameter based on motor unit latency studies is also presented that is consistent with the predictions made by the electromagnetic field and nerve fiber excitation simulations.
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