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Does an Increase in the Tension in a Ligament elicit Reflex Muscular Responses?


FOR a long time articular ligaments have not been thought of as purely mechanical checks to abnormal movements of a joint; instead it has been assumed that one of their most important functions is to respond to increased tension by initiating a reflex contraction of the muscles capable of opposing the abnormal movement. This opinion has been expressed by several authors (first by Partridge1) and appears in orthopædic and traumatological text-books. A survey of the literature shows, however, that this teleologically attractive hypothesis has not been confirmed by experiments. In order to test the validity of the hypothesis, an investigation was begun on the cat using the medial collateral ligament of the knee joint.

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  1. 1

    Partridge, E. J., J. Anat., 58, 346 (1924).

  2. 2

    Gardner, E., Amer. J. Physiol., 161, 133 (1950).

  3. 3

    McCouch, I. D., Deering, I. D., and Ling, T. H., J. Neurophysiol., 14, 191 (1951).

  4. 4

    Skoglund, S., Acta Physiol. Scand., 36, Suppl. 124 (1956).

  5. 5

    Cohen, L. A., and Cohen, M. L., Amer. J. Physiol., 184, 433 (1956).

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