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A micromechanical muscle model for determining the impact of motor unit fiber clustering on force transmission in aging skeletal muscle

Teklemariam, A and Hodson-Tole, E and Reeves, ND and Cooper, G (2019) A micromechanical muscle model for determining the impact of motor unit fiber clustering on force transmission in aging skeletal muscle. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology. ISSN 1617-7940

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Abstract

© 2019, The Author(s). This study used a micromechanical finite element muscle model to investigate the effects of the redistribution of spatial activation patterns in young and old muscle. The geometry consisted of a bundle of 19 active muscle fibers encased in endomysium sheets, surrounded by passive tissue to model a fascicle. Force was induced by activating combinations of the 19 active muscle fibers. The spacial clustering of muscle fibers modeled in this study showed unbalanced strains suggesting tissue damage at higher strain levels may occur during higher levels of activation and/or during dynamic conditions. These patterns of motor unit remodeling are one of the consequences of motor unit loss and reinnervation associated with aging. The results did not reveal evident quantitative changes in force transmission between old and young adults, but the patterns of stress and strain distribution were affected, suggesting an uneven distribution of the forces may occur within the fascicle that could provide a mechanism for muscle injury in older muscle.

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