PHYSIOLOGY as a scientific discipline has utilized the term fatigue as a descriptive category for certain miscellaneous effects accruing from the prolonged activity of physiological structures. This chapter in reviewing some of the features of nerve and muscle activity, including those which have been labeled fatigue, is in line with one of the general purposes of the book, viz., to survey all the fields in which the term fatigue has been used. The studies presented here are also relevant because they often deal with impairment directly. The question of whether or not the information included contributes to the knowledge of how fatigue (as we define it) develops is secondary. The items discussed indicate one of the settings into which conventional ideas of fatigue are brought. Fatigue, as employed by these workers, is of little help in promoting an understanding of physiology, and even less in promoting an understanding of the individual.
Studies on the physiology of activity vary all the way from precise investigation on the minute changes that take place in the cells, through the consideration of what happens in organs and systems, to the behavior of the whole organism. The physiological studies on record represent an unparalleled variety in modes of inquiry.
There are two main ways of studying muscle physiology as a part of the general study of "fatigue." One is to study how nerve-muscle systems behave, giving particular attention to how the separate components participate in the over-all movements and postures involved. The possibility of discord and inefficiency among component functions is a primary feature. The other method is the study of how much work a muscle or muscle system may do, how much fuel it requires to do it, and what chemicophysical waste products are produced in the activity. These two methods are examples of methods in standard muscle physiology and biochemistry. The latter focuses on energy supply and expenditure, the former on neuromuscular organization as revealed in timing, etc. A tacit assumption of the metabolic viewpoint is that fatigue is to be studied through conditions that reveal intrinsic functional failures in specific and localized
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Publication information: Book title: Fatigue and Impairment in Man. Contributors: S. Howard Bartley - Author, Eloise Chute - Author. Publisher: McGraw-Hill. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1947. Page number: 57.
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