Quadriceps Femoris Muscle Torques And Fatigue Generated By Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation With Three Different Waveforms.
- Aug 16, 2018 -


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation is used by physical therapists to improve muscle performance. Optimal forms of stimulation settings are yet to be determined, as are possible sex-related differences in responsiveness to electrical stimulation. The objectives of the study were: (1) to compare the ability of 3 different waveforms to generate isometric contractions of the quadriceps femoris muscles of individuals without known impairments, (2) to compare muscle fatigue caused by repeated contractions induced by these same waveforms, and (3) to examine the effect of sex on muscle force production and fatigue induced by electrical stimulation.


Fifteen women and 15 men (mean age=29.5 years, SD=5.4, range=22-38) participated in the study.


A portable battery-operated stimulator was used to generate either a monophasic or biphasic rectangular waveform. A stimulator that was plugged into an electrical outlet was used to generate a 2,500-Hz alternating current. Phase duration, frequency, and on-off ratios were kept identical for both stimulators. Participants did not know the type of waveform being used. Torque was measured using a computerized dynamometer. A maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of the right quadriceps femoris muscle set at 60 degrees of knee flexion was determined during the first session. In each of the 3 testing sessions, torque of contraction and fatigue elicited by one waveform were measured. Order of testing was randomized. Torque elicited by electrical stimulation was expressed as a percentage of average MVIC. A mixed-model analysis of variance was used to determine the effect of stimulation and sex on strength of contraction and fatigue. Bonferroni-corrected post hoc tests were used to further distinguish between the effects of the 3 stimulus waveforms.


The results indicated that the monophasic and biphasic waveforms generated contractions with greater torque than the polyphasic waveform. These 2 waveforms also were less fatiguing. The torques from the maximally tolerated electrically elicited contractions were greater for the male subjects than for the female subjects.


Muscle torque and fatigue of electrically induced contractions depend on the waveform used to stimulate the contraction, with monophasic and biphasic waveforms having an advantage over the polyphasic waveform. All tested waveforms elicited, on average, stronger contractions in male subjects than in female subjects when measured as a percentage of MVIC.