It is generally accepted that ischemia produced by limb compression affects rapidly conducting large-diameter Ia afferents in the early stage and that the motor nerve-muscle complex is blocked later. This notion, however, seems to be controversial for several reasons, so an attempt to reveal the amount of motor unit (MU) impairment during ischemia was made. Observation of human soleus muscle electromyographic (EMG) signal recorded either by bipolar needle electrode or by surface electrodes at various levels of voluntary contraction during the course of ischemia showed that low-threshold small MUs were affected first while high-threshold large MUs survived longer. The changes in EMG patterns were temporally correlated with T-reflex deterioration. It is suggested that the early loss of low-threshold MUs may play a definite role in alterations of reflexes during ischemia.
- Motor units