Reinnervated Muscles Fail to Produce Stretch Reflexes

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1. We studied the stretch-evoked reflex organization of hind limb muscles in two decerebrate cats 36 mo after unilateral section and immediate surgical repair of the common nerve supplying the lateral gastrocnemius (LG) and soleus (S) muscles.

2. The production of considerable reflex force by reinnervated muscles in response to electrical stimulation of uninjured nerves indicated substantial functional recovery of motor units. However, reduction in the responsiveness of reinnervated muscles to stretch of the untreated medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscle indicated some deficit in recovery of normal synaptic integration.

3. Stretch failed to elicit autogenic excitation of the reinnervated S and LG. This failure was observed whether the reinnervated muscles were quiescent or contracting in other reflexes.

4. The heterogenic reflex organization of reinnervated muscles was abnormal. Stretch of the reinnervated S failed to evoke heterogenic reflexes both in the untreated MG and in the reinnervated LG. Stretch of the reinnervated LG failed to produce excitation of MG.

5. These findings demonstrate deficiencies in proprioceptive feedback from reinnervated muscles and lead us to expect incomplete recovery of motor function after nerve section.

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