In hypertonic muscles of patients with upper motor neuron syndrome (UMNS), investigation with surface electromyography (EMG) with the muscle in a shortened position and during passive muscle stretch allows to identify two patterns underlying hypertonia: spasticity and spastic dystonia. We recently observed in Para swimmers that the effect of fatigue on hypertonia can be different from subject to subject. Our goal was, therefore, to understand whether this divergent behavior may depend on the specific EMG pattern underlying hypertonia. We investigated eight UMNS Para swimmers (five men, mean age 23.25 ± 3.28 years), affected by cerebral palsy, who presented muscle hypertonia of knee flexors and extensors. Muscle tone was rated using the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS). EMG patterns were investigated in rectus femoris (RF) and biceps femoris (BF) before and after two fatiguing motor tasks of increasing intensity. Before the fatiguing tasks, two subjects (#2 and 7) had spasticity and one subject (#5) had spastic dystonia in both RF and BF. Two subjects (#3 and 4) showed spasticity in RF and spastic dystonia in BF, whereas one subject (#1) had spasticity in RF and no EMG activity in BF. The remaining two subjects (#6 and 8) had spastic dystonia in RF and no EMG activity in BF. In all the 16 examined muscles, these EMG patterns persisted after the fatiguing tasks. Spastic dystonia increased (p < 0.05), while spasticity did not change (p > 0.05). MAS scores increased only in the muscles affected by spastic dystonia. Among the phenomena possibly underlying hypertonia, only spastic dystonia is fatigue-dependent. Technical staff and medical classifiers should be aware of this specificity, because, in athletes with spastic dystonia, intense and prolonged motor activity could negatively affect competitive performance, creating a situation of unfairness among Para athletes belonging to the same sports class.

Not all Forms of Muscle Hypertonia Worsen With Fatigue: A Pilot Study in Para Swimmers

Puce, Luca;Bragazzi, Nicola Luigi;Marinelli, Lucio;Mori, Laura;Cotellessa, Filippo;Ponzano, Marta;Trompetto, Carlo
2022

Abstract

In hypertonic muscles of patients with upper motor neuron syndrome (UMNS), investigation with surface electromyography (EMG) with the muscle in a shortened position and during passive muscle stretch allows to identify two patterns underlying hypertonia: spasticity and spastic dystonia. We recently observed in Para swimmers that the effect of fatigue on hypertonia can be different from subject to subject. Our goal was, therefore, to understand whether this divergent behavior may depend on the specific EMG pattern underlying hypertonia. We investigated eight UMNS Para swimmers (five men, mean age 23.25 ± 3.28 years), affected by cerebral palsy, who presented muscle hypertonia of knee flexors and extensors. Muscle tone was rated using the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS). EMG patterns were investigated in rectus femoris (RF) and biceps femoris (BF) before and after two fatiguing motor tasks of increasing intensity. Before the fatiguing tasks, two subjects (#2 and 7) had spasticity and one subject (#5) had spastic dystonia in both RF and BF. Two subjects (#3 and 4) showed spasticity in RF and spastic dystonia in BF, whereas one subject (#1) had spasticity in RF and no EMG activity in BF. The remaining two subjects (#6 and 8) had spastic dystonia in RF and no EMG activity in BF. In all the 16 examined muscles, these EMG patterns persisted after the fatiguing tasks. Spastic dystonia increased (p < 0.05), while spasticity did not change (p > 0.05). MAS scores increased only in the muscles affected by spastic dystonia. Among the phenomena possibly underlying hypertonia, only spastic dystonia is fatigue-dependent. Technical staff and medical classifiers should be aware of this specificity, because, in athletes with spastic dystonia, intense and prolonged motor activity could negatively affect competitive performance, creating a situation of unfairness among Para athletes belonging to the same sports class.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/1090644
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