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Abstract #2706

Detecting motor unit activity during volitional muscle contraction – Motor Unit MRI

Linda Heskamp1, Matthew G. Birkbeck1,2,3, Ian S. Schofield4, Roger G. Whittaker4, and Andrew M. Blamire1
1Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Center, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 2Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 3Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) NIHR, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 4Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

Motor units (MUs) play a fundamental role in muscle physiology and disease. They can be imaged using a diffusion weighted imaging technique, motor unit MRI (MUMRI). Previous work activated MUs using electrical stimulation, limiting MUMRI to muscles innervated from superficial nerves. Here, we demonstrated the feasibility of MUMRI during volitional muscle activation. We confirmed that the MU activity detected with MUMRI during muscle contraction increased with b-value, force level and was dependent on the diffusion-sensitisation direction. This work allows us to image MUs in situations reflecting real muscle physiology making it a promising tool for studying motor neuron diseases.

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