This animation shows the body' s reflex response to a hot substance landing on the hand.
The skeletal muscles are under voluntary (conscious) control most of the time. However, skeletal muscle movement can also by induced by involuntary reflexes.
Reflexes are involuntary reactions to a stimulus such as the burning of the hand. As soon as a hot substance contacts the hand, pain receptors in the skin send a signal to the spinal cord. In turn, the spinal cord sends a signal back to the arm muscles that instruct the hand to pull away. The arm flexed as it withdrew, which is known as a flexor (withdrawal) reflex.
If the body did not have the reflexes to withdraw quickly from a painful stimulus, we would be at risk for serious injury.
Reviewed last on: 10/5/2008
Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Gene Therapeutics Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.