Assessment of variability in the shape of the motor unit action potential, the "jiggle," at consecutive discharges

E V Stålberg, M Sonoo
Muscle & Nerve 1994, 17 (10): 1135-44
A method for quantifying shape variability, the jiggle, or motor unit potentials (MUPs) recorded with conventional EMG electrodes is presented. Amplitude variability at each point of time of the MUP was analyzed. Two new parameters are proposed: the normalized value of the consecutive amplitude differences (CAD), and the cross-correlational coefficient of the consecutive discharges (CCC). Simulations showed that increased jitter of the constituent single fiber potentials increases the jiggle as expressed by an increase in CAD and decrease in CCC values. Even when the jitter value of each component was fixed, increased temporal dispersion increased the jiggle whereas an increased number of fibers decreased the jiggle. This new method has been applied in normal subjects, patients with chronic neurogenic diseases and patients with ALS. Jiggle was significantly increased in the ALS group, in agreement with visual observations. We believe that this method for quantifying jiggle will increase the information obtainable from routine EMG investigations.

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