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Functional compensation in partially denervated muscles
  1. A. J. McComas1,
  2. R. E. P. Sica,
  3. M. J. Campbell2,
  4. A. R. M. Upton
  1. Regional Neurological Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne


    In patients with various types of chronic motor denervation, the numbers of surviving motor units have been compared with the twitch tensions developed by the same muscle (extensor digitorum brevis). It was found that functional compensation in partially denervated muscles was often marked; in most patients abnormally small twitches occurred only when fewer than 10% of motor axons remained. The factors responsible for this compensation are considered. The twitch speeds of partially denervated muscles differed markedly, even among patients with the same disorder; there was evidence to suggest that the twitches of some motor units might become slower than those found in normal muscles.

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    • 1 M.R.C. External Scientific Staff.

    • 2 Formerly British Council Scholar, now at Hospital Ramos Mejia, Buenos Aires, Argentina.