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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2021 October;57(5):691-700

DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.21.06621-1


language: English

Is fatigue a muscular phenomenon in Parkinson’s disease? Implications for rehabilitation

Cira FUNDARÒ 1 , Marco GAZZONI 2, Gian D. PINNA 3, Carlo DALLOCCHIO 4, Alberto RAINOLDI 5, Roberto CASALE 6

1 Unit of Neurophysiopathology, Montescano Institute, IRCSS Maugeri Scientific Institutes, Montescano, Pavia, Italy; 2 Department of Electronics and Telecommunications, LISiN, Laboratory of Engineering of Neuromuscular System, Polytechnic University of Turin, Turin, Italy; 3 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Montescano Institute, IRCSS Maugeri Scientific Institutes, Montescano, Pavia, Italy; 4 Unit of Neurology, Department of Medical Area, ASST Pavia, Voghera, Pavia, Italy; 5 School of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Department of Medical Sciences, NeuroMuscularFunction Research Group, University of Turin, Turin, Italy; 6 OPUS Medica PC&R (Persons, Care and Research), Piacenza, Italy

BACKGROUND: Fatigue in Parkinson’s disease (PD) compromises patients’ physical activity and poses questions on how to plan correct rehabilitation training. In addition, the relationship between subjective perceived fatigue and fatigue in motor performance is not yet entirely understood. Therefore, a conclusive interpretation of muscular mechanisms of fatigue in PD has not yet been achieved. Among the various instrumental evaluations for fatigue, multichannel surface electromyography (sEMG) is a recognized tool that permits the study of myoelectric manifestations of fatigue.
AIM: The aim of this study was to assess if muscles in PD show a different myoelectric fatigue pattern compared to the muscles of healthy age-matched subjects.
DESIGN: The design was observational controlled study.
POPULATION: Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease, Hohen &Yahr II and III stage, Parkinsonian Fatigue Scale average score ≥2.95, no therapy modification in the 4 weeks preceding the study; exclusion criteria: mini mental state examination ≤24, upper limb disease/symptoms that might interfere with sEMG analysis, presence of other fatigue-related conditions. Twenty patients were selected according to these criteria. Twenty untrained healthy subjects were matched.
METHODS: All subjects underwent a muscle fatigue protocol and a sEMG analysis of the right biceps brachii muscle during electrically stimulated and voluntary contractions in order to obtain a myoelectric fatigue muscular pattern. The myoelectric pattern is characterized by the modifications of the following sEMG variables: reduction of mean frequency and muscle fiber conduction velocity, increase of average rectified value.
RESULTS: No statistical differences were observed between groups for sEMG variables and muscular electric behavior in all contraction conditions (all P>0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that parkinsonian muscles do not differ from the muscles of healthy age-matched subjects in developing peripheral myoelectric fatigue. Nevertheless, the role of fatigue perception at rest and particularly during physical activity must be clearly understood in order to further target the rehabilitative approach for fatigued parkinsonian patients and to reduce hypomobility.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: In rehabilitative terms, these findings allow us to highlight the possibility of performing sustained training with isometric contractions in PD subjects; therefore, fatigue “per se” does not constitute a barrier for the execution of muscular exercises, likewise intensive.

KEY WORDS: Parkinson disease; Fatigue; Rehabilitation

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