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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2003 Apr;13(2):169-80.

The effect of head position, electrode site, movement and smoothing window in the determination of a reliable maximum voluntary activation of the upper trapezius muscle.

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Queen's University, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6.


Quantitative measures derived from raw myoelectric signal (MES) data must be normalized to allow for comparisons both within and between subjects. The most common method of normalization involves dividing the root mean square (RMS) amplitude of the MES recorded during a given activity by the RMS of the MES elicited during a maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of that particular muscle. The objective of this study was to use surface-recorded MES amplitude to determine the combination of electrode site, test position, head posture, and smoothing window that elicits the highest and most reliable MES amplitudes during an MVIC of the upper trapezius (UT) muscle. Ten volunteers had surface electrodes positioned at five sites on the UT of their dominant side. Three trials of each of three MVIC test positions were performed both with the head in neutral and rotated 45 degrees to the contralateral side. A repeated-measures ANOVA was used for statistical hypothesis testing. Coefficients of variation were used to quantify the between-factor variability introduced in each case. In addition, the data were re-analyzed using moving windows of 100 to 500 ms in length, and an ANOVA was used to determine the effect of window length on both the amplitude and variability of the estimates of maximum voluntary activation (MVE). Head position had no significant effect on RMS amplitude of the MVIC in any of the test positions. There was a significant electrode site by test position interaction effect. Bonferroni post-hoc analyses were performed on this interaction by fixing test position and testing electrode site, revealing that Sites 1 (2 cm lateral to the midpoint between C7 spinous process and the posterolateral border of the acromion) and 4 (2 cm posterior to Site 1) recorded significantly higher RMS values for all test positions, and were not significantly different from each other. Fixing electrode site, the test position analysis revealed that abduction of the humerus, and abduction with external rotation of the humerus produced significantly higher RMS values than shoulder elevation at both Sites 1 and 4, and that abduction produced a significantly higher RMS amplitude than abduction in external rotation at Site 1. The results confirmed that Sites 1 and 4 consistently produced the highest MES amplitudes for all movements. Pure abduction consistently elicited maximal RMS values; however there is concern regarding supraspinatus cross talk during this movement. Site 1 was found to produce the most reliable data. A moving window of 100 ms was found to generate MVE estimates that were significantly higher than windows ranging from 200 ms to 500 ms in length. There was no effect of window length on the reliability of the MVEs. Based on this study, it was concluded that abduction or abduction with the arms in lateral rotation should be used as normalization contraction positions for the upper trapezius muscle. During this movement, Site 1 data smoothed with a moving window of 100 ms produces the highest amplitude MVE data but window lengths greater than 200 ms produce more stable estimates in terms of being able to compare studies in which moving windows are used to compute RMS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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