Reliability of techniques to assess human neuromuscular function in vivo.

Academic Article


  • The purpose of this study was to comprehensively evaluate the reliability of a large number of commonly utilized experimental tests of in vivo human neuromuscular function separated by 4-weeks. Numerous electrophysiological parameters (i.e., voluntary and evoked electromyogram [EMG] signals), contractile properties (i.e., evoked forces and rates of force development and relaxation), muscle morphology (i.e., MRI-derived cross-sectional area [CSA]) and performance tasks (i.e., steadiness and time to task failure) were assessed from the plantarflexor muscle group in 17 subjects before and following 4-weeks where they maintained their normal lifestyle. The reliability of the measured variables had wide-ranging levels of consistency, with coefficient of variations (CV) ranging from approximately 2% to 20%, and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) between 0.53 and 0.99. Overall, we observed moderate to high-levels of reliability in the vast majority of the variables we assessed (24 out of the 29 had ICC>0.70 and CV<15%). The variables demonstrating the highest reliability were: CSA (ICC=0.93-0.98), strength (ICC=0.97), an index of nerve conduction velocity (ICC=0.95), and H-reflex amplitude (ICC=0.93). Conversely, the variables demonstrating the lowest reliability were: the amplitude of voluntary EMG signal (ICC=0.53-0.88), and the time to task failure of a sustained submaximal contraction (ICC=0.64). Additionally, relatively little systematic bias (calculated through the limits of agreement) was observed in these measures over the repeat sessions. In conclusion, while the reliability differed between the various measures, in general it was rather high even when the testing sessions are separated by a relatively long duration of time.
  • Authors

  • Clark, Brian C
  • Cook, Summer
  • Ploutz-Snyder, Lori L
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 2007
  • Keywords

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Neuromuscular Junction
  • Physical Examination
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 16427317
  • Start Page

  • 90
  • End Page

  • 101
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 1