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Changes in the surface EMG signal and the biomechanics of motion during a repetitive lifting task

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4 Author(s)
Bonato, P. ; NeuroMuscular Res. Center, Boston Univ., MA, USA ; Boissy, P. ; Della Croce, U. ; Roy, S.H.

The analysis of surface electromyographic (EMG) data recorded from the muscles of the back during isometric constant-force contractions has been a useful tool for assessing muscle deficits in patients with lower back pain (LBP). Until recently, extending the technique to dynamic tasks, such as lifting, has not been possible due to the nonstationarity of the EMG signals. Recent developments in time-frequency analysis procedures to compute the instantaneous median frequency (IMDF) were utilized in this study to overcome these limitations. Healthy control subjects with no history of LBP (n=9; mean age 26.3±6.7) were instrumented for acquisition of surface EMG data from six electrodes on the thoraco-lumbar region and whole-body kinematic data from a stereo-photogrammetric system. Data were recorded during a standardized repetitive lifting task (load=15% body mass; 12 lifts/min; 5-min duration). The task resulted in significant decreases in IMDF for six of the nine subjects, with a symmetrical pattern of fatigue among contralateral muscles and greater decrements in the lower lumbar region. For those subjects with a significant decrease in IMDF, a lower limb and/or upper limb biomechanical adaptation to fatigue was observed during the task. Increases in the peak box acceleration were documented. In two subjects, the acceleration doubled its value from the beginning to the end of the exercise, which lead to a significant increase in the torque at L4/L5. This observation suggests an association between muscle fatigue at the lumbar region and the way the subject manipulates the box during the exercise. Fatigue-related biomechanical adaptations are discussed as a possible supplement to functional capacity assessments among patients with LBP.

Published in:

Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:10 ,  Issue: 1 )

Date of Publication:

March 2002

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