Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Chiropractic & Manual Therapies and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Anatomically remote muscle contraction facilitates patellar tendon reflex reinforcement while mental activity does not: a within-participants experimental trial

Steven R Passmore12* and Paul A Bruno3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medical Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, R106 – 771 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 0T6, Canada

2 Research Department, New York Chiropractic College, 2360 State Route 89, Seneca Falls, NY, 13148, USA

3 Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, University of Regina, 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4S 0A2, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2012, 20:29  doi:10.1186/2045-709X-20-29

Published: 7 September 2012

Abstract

Background

The Jendrassik maneuver (JM) is a remote facilitation muscular contraction shown to affect amplitude and temporal components of the human stretch reflex. Conflicting theoretical models exist regarding the neurological mechanism related to its ability to reinforce reflex parameters. One mechanism involves the gamma motoneurons of the fusimotor system, which are subject to both physical and mental activity. A second mechanism describes reduced alpha motoneuron presynaptic inhibition, which is not subject to mental activity. In the current study, we determined if mental activity could be used to create a reflex facilitation comparable to a remote muscle contraction.

Method

Using a within-participants design, we investigated the relative effect of the JM and a successfully employed mental task (Stroop task) on the amplitude and temporal components of the patellar tendon reflex.

Results

We found that the addition of mental activity had no influence on the patellar tendon reflex parameters measured, while the JM provided facilitation (increased reflex amplitude, decreased total reflex time).

Conclusion

The findings from this study support the view that the mechanism for the JM is a reduction in presynaptic inhibition of alpha motoneurons as it is influenced by physical and not mental activity.

Keywords:
Neurologic examination; Stretch reflex; Jendrassik maneuver; Stroop task; Presynaptic inhibition