Dynamic spindle reflexes and the rigidity of Parkinsonism

  • McLellan D
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The effects of stimulating the reflex arc from dynamic spindle endings were examined in patients with the rigidity of Parkinsonism and in control subjects. The arc was activated phasically by a tendon tap and by electrical stimulation in 15 patients. The effect of reinforcement by Jendrassik's manoeuvre was observed. The response to phasic activation indicated central facilitation of the reflex loop in the patients with Parkinsonism, with a concurrent decrease in fusimotor drive to dynamic spindles. These abnormalities could not be correlated with the severity of the patients' rigidity, and they did not alter when the rigidity was reduced by levodopa. The effect of activating dynamic spindle endings tonically by vibration at 50 Hz was also examined. The reflex contraction of the biceps and triceps muscles in response to vibration was found to be increased in 24 patients with rigidity compared with 24 control subjects. Patients with severe rigidity developed a more powerful contraction in response to vibration than patients with mild rigidity. The response to vibration was reduced by treatment with levodopa but the amount of this reduction could not be correlated with changes in the patients' rigidity.

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  • D. L. McLellan

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