Effect of Electrical Stimulation on Denervated Muscle

  • W. A. Nix


The possibilities of noninvasive treatment in peripheral nerve injuries are limited. Although it is well known that the severance of a nerve results in paralysis of the dependent tissue, the methods of treating a denervated muscle are still controversial. The most obvious result of denervation is muscle atrophy and paralysis. In 1841 Reid forced the denervated muscle to contract by electrical stimulation to replace the loss of activity and observed that this treatment retarded atrophy. Since then, there has been continuing interest in preventing muscle atrophy with electrotherapy. Peripheral nerve injuries in the two world wars were, for instance, extensively treated with electrical stimulation. However, the usefulness of this therapeutic regime has been doubtful since reports of the success of the treatment are far from uniform. To date there have been no rigorous studies to evaluate the beneficial effect of this procedure in patients. Along with the clinical trials animal experiments have been conducted, yet many of these are impossible to compare, because the conditions of the experiments, such as stimuli parameters, duration of treatment, and conditions under which the muscle contracted, were too different. The best study conducted to date was that of Gutmann and Guttmann in 1944. They proved morphologically an atrophy-retarding effect of electrical stimulation in rabbit extensor digi-torum longus (EDL). The results were dependent on controlled experimental conditions; treatment had to be applied each day for at least 20 min and the elicited muscle contraction had to be vigorous.


Electrical Stimulation Fibre Diameter Soleus Muscle Peripheral Nerve Injury Stimulate Muscle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. A. Nix
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, University ClinicsJohannes-Gutenberg UniversityMainzWest Germany

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