How do muscles bulge during contraction and does this influence function?

Perhaps when you were a child, you stood in front of a mirror and flexed your elbow to see how big your muscles were (perhaps you have done this recently?).  The harder you contract your muscle, the bigger it looks. But of course the muscle doesn’t actually get bigger, it […]

New reflexes acting between human inspiratory muscles in able-bodied participants and those with spinal injury

Inspiratory muscle motoneurone pools are linked via many reflex connections.  These reflexes are largely inhibitory and can operate over several segments.  Much of our knowledge of these reflex connections comes from studies in animals (Marlot et al. 1988, Speck & Revelette. 1987).  In humans, we know that stimulation of the phrenic nerve […]

Interview: Professor Rob Herbert talks about muscle contractures

Professor Rob Herbert at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) performs research into contractures – the stiffening of joints that often occurs after neurological lesions such as stroke, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. In this video he talks about the cutting-edge techniques like ultrasound and diffusion tensor imaging that he and people […]

Muscle: a novel way to study its structure

Diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) is a novel technique used to study muscle architecture, and is currently being used for NeuRA’s motor impairment research. In his review paper, Damon et al. [1] comprehensively describes the details of the technique. In this blog, we cover some key elements to this […]

Can the inevitable age-related decrement in motor unit number and stability be out run?

Aging is associated with reduced muscle mass and strength. This loss of muscle mass has been termed sarcopenia, meaning “poverty of flesh”.  The loss of muscle mass itself is insufficient to account for strength and power decrements during senescence, which has led to the introduction of the term ‘dynapenia’ to denote […]

Motor unit remodelling in the aged human vastus lateralis

A progressive reduction in limb muscle mass is characteristic of advancing age, usually referred to as sarcopenia (Rosenberg, 1997). This loss of muscle mass and strength is likely to contribute to the general loss of mobility and risk of falling, a major concern for the elderly. These problems have been […]

2015 Highlights from the Motor Impairment Group at NeuRA

Members of the Motor Impairment Research Program conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess whether step training can improve physical and neuropsychological measures associated with falls in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). 50 people with MS participated in the trial in which intervention group participants (n = 28) performed step […]

Human muscles fascicles: what can ultrasound and diffusion tensor imaging reveal?

Following a stroke or spinal cord injury some people develop stiff joints, sometimes referred to as contracture. It is not well understood why contractures develop. Also, it is not clear whether they result from changes in the muscle or the tendon, which is why researchers and clinicians are very interested […]