Agonist-antagonist Muscle Strain in the Residual Limb Preserves Motor Control and Perception after Amputation

Song H, Israel EA, Gutierrez-Arango S, Teng AC, Srinivasan SS, Freed LE, Herr HM. Agonist-antagonist Muscle Strain in the Residual Limb Preserves Motor Control and Perception after Amputation. Communication Medicine (Lond). 2022 Aug 5;2:97. doi: 0.1038/s43856-022-00162-z PMID35942078; PMC9356003 2022 (Publisher Correction 2022 Sep 26;2:121. doi: 10.1038/s43856-022-00188-3).


Background:  Elucidating underlying mechanisms in subject-specific motor control and perception after amputation could guide development of advanced surgical and neuroprosthetic technologies. In this study, relationships between preserved agonist-antagonist muscle strain within the residual limb and preserved motor control and perception capacity are investigated.   Methods Fourteen persons with unilateral transtibial amputations spanning a range of ages, etiologies, and surgical procedures underwent evaluations involving free-space mirrored motions of their lower limbs. Research has shown that varied motor control in biologically intact limbs is executed by the activation of muscle synergies. Here, we assess the naturalness of phantom joint motor control postamputation based on extracted muscle synergies and their activation profiles. Muscle synergy extraction, degree of agonist-antagonist muscle strain, and perception capacity are estimated from electromyography, ultrasonography, and goniometry, respectively.   Results: Here, we show significant positive correlations (P<0.005–0.05) between sensorimotor responses and residual limb agonist-antagonist muscle strain. Identified trends indicate that preserving even 20–26% of agonist-antagonist muscle strain within the residuum compared to a biologically intact limb is effective in preserving naturalmotor control postamputation, though preserving limb perception capacity requires more (61%) agonist-antagonist muscle strain preservation.   Conclusions: The results suggest that agonist-antagonist muscle strain is a characteristic, readily ascertainable residual limb structural feature that can help explain variability in amputation outcome, and agonist-antagonist muscle strain preserving surgical amputation strategies are one way to enable more effective and biomimetic sensorimotor control postamputation.

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