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Determining central activation failure and peripheral fatigue in the course of sustained maximal voluntary contractions: a model-based approach

Maartje L. Schillings, Dick F. Stegeman, and Machiel J. Zwarts

Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, and Interuniversity Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Nijmegen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Journal of Applied Physiology, 98: 2292-2297 (2005)

Promotie onderzoek: zie Agendapunten


In the study of fatigue, several methods have been used to calculate the development of central activation failure (CAF) and peripheral fatigue (PF) in the course of a sustained maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). This paper presents a model that enables simultaneous determination of CAF and PF during sustained MVC by using only force registration and superimposed electrical stimulation. In the model, we explicitly use the assumption, which is virtually always made implicitly in earlier studies, that a constant relative fraction of maximal possible force is activated by the electrical stimulation. That fraction can be determined at the start and at the end of a sustained MVC. The model shows that in the course of a sustained MVC, CAF can be calculated by merely using 1) this fraction, 2) the amplitudes of the superimposed force responses to stimulation, and 3) the course of voluntary force. After CAF quantification, the development of PF during MVC becomes available as well. The present study first examines the model assumption with data of sustained MVCs of variable durations on six healthy subjects. Subsequently, it shows CAF values in a group of 27 healthy subjects determined with both the model and a method of linear interpolation for PF estimation. Model-based CAF values were significantly higher during, but not at the start and at the end of, a 2-min sustained MVC. Next to a well-justified CAF determination, the model has the advantage of simultaneously quantifying PF, which was not possible with the previous methods.

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