The Effect of Paired Muscle Stimulation on Preparation for Movement
Paired muscle stimulation is used clinically to facilitate the performance of motor tasks for individuals with motor dysfunction. However, the optimal temporal relationship between stimuli for enhancing movement remains unknown. We hypothesized that synchronous, muscle stimulation would increase the extent to which stimulated muscles are concurrently prepared for movement. We validated a measure of muscle-specific changes in corticomotor excitability prior to movement. We used this measure to examine the preparation of the first dorsal interosseous (FDI), abductor digiti minimi (ADM), abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscles prior to voluntary muscle contractions before and after paired muscle stimulation at four interstimulus intervals (0, 5, 10, and 75 ms). Paired muscle stimulation increased premovement excitability in the stimulated FDI, but not in the ADM muscle. Interstimulus interval was not a significant factor in determining efficacy of the protocol. Paired stimulation, therefore, did not result in a functional association being formed between the stimulated muscles. Somatosensory potentials evoked by the muscle stimuli were small compared to those commonly elicited by stimulation of peripheral nerves, suggesting that the lack of functional association formation between muscles may be due to the small magnitude of afferent volleys from the stimulated muscles, particularly the ADM, reaching the cortex.