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Differential functioning of deep and superficial lumbar multifidus fibres during vertebral indentation perturbations Apperley, Scott


Introduction: Lumbar spine stability programs have been advocated to prevent and rehabilitate low back injury. Specifically, abdominal ‘drawing in’ has been used to train motor control deficits in individuals with low back pain. This technique requires differential activity within deep and superficial lumbar multifidus fibres, yet the ability of these fibres to act differentially has not been extensively examined. Deep fibres are hypothesized to act as spinal stabilizers while superficial fibres are hypothesized to act as global movers of the trunk. Objective: To investigate differential excitation of deep and superficial lumbar multifidus fibres during segmental indentation loads to the lumbar spine. Methods: Posterior-anterior indentation loads were applied to individual lumbar spinous processes of prone participants at three different velocities and three different indentation displacements. Indentations consisted of an initial downward displacement that was subsequently held for 500 milliseconds. Intramuscular electromyography (EMG) of deep and superficial lumbar multifidus fibres at L3, L4 and L5 was recorded. EMG was quantified by “average” root mean square (RMS), peak RMS of a sliding RMS window and time-to-peak RMS over the indentation phase and 500 millisecond hold phase. Results: Increased indentation displacement at the slowest velocity resulted in increased “average” RMS of only the L5 superficial multifidus fibres. Increased indentation velocity produced differential effects in deep and superficial multifidus fibres. “Average” RMS and peak RIVIS significantly increased with increasing indentation velocity in most deep fibre recording sites, yet superficial fibre excitation did not significantly increase. In most EMG recording sites, the time-to-peak RMS increased with increasing indentation displacement and decreased with increasing indentation velocity. Conclusion: Differential excitation of superficial and deep multifidus fibres was found with increasing indentation velocity; however, the result was opposite to that hypothesized. This result is clinically relevant because it suggests deep multifidus fibre excitation may increase in response to increased perturbation magnitude, possibly to restore vertebral body position. Differential excitation effects may also be related to different mechanical stimuli experienced by deep and superficial fibres due to vertebral body movement during indentation loads. 11

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