Botulinum Toxin Effect on Voluntary and Stretch Reflex-Related Torque Produced by the Quadriceps: An Isokinetic Pilot Study

Bernuz B, Genet FO, Terrat P, Pradon D, Barbot F, Bussel B, Bensmail D.

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2011 Dec 9. [Epub ahead of print]


BACKGROUND: An understanding of the mechanical effects of botulinum toxin type A (BoNT A) on spastic and voluntary muscle contraction may help predict functional responders.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effect of BoNT A on the voluntary and stretch reflex-related torques produced by activation of the rectus femoris (RF).

METHODS: This was a prospective open study where 15 incomplete spinal cord injury patients, impaired by a stiff-knee gait, with RF hyperactivity in mid-swing quantified by formal gait analysis (GA), were assessed before and after RF BoNT A injection (Botox, 200 UI).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Included isokinetic peak torque (and angle at peak torque) at 0° (supine) and 90° (seated) during passive stretch (10 deg/s, 90 deg/s, and 150 deg/s), and voluntary contraction (60 deg/s) of the quadriceps. Secondary measures included impairment by Modified Tardieu Scale (MTS), peak knee flexion and spatial-temporal data by GA, activity (6-minute walking test, timed stair climbing), and discomfort (Verbal Rating Scale).

RESULTS: Voluntary torque decreased (-16%; P = .0004) but with only a trend toward a decrease in stretch reflex-related torque. The angle at spastic torque increased at 90 deg/s (+5°; P = .03), whereas MTS, peak knee flexion (+4°; P = .01), spatial-temporal data, timed stair climbing test (25%; P = .02), and discomfort were significantly improved.

CONCLUSION: BoNT A appeared to delay the stretch-reflex angle at peak torque, whereas the voluntary torque decreased. After strict patient selection, BoNT A injection into the RF muscle led to improvements in impairment, activity, and discomfort.

Contact: Réhabilitation Neurologique, Hôpital Léon Bérard, Hyères ; Service de Médecine Physique et Réadaptation, Hôpital Raymond Poincaré, Garches