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A comparison of turns analysis and motor unit analysis in electromyography.

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Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, VA Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1200.


We compared the results of turns analysis and motor unit analysis on 4056 electromyographic interference patterns (IPs) from normal subjects and patients with neuromuscular disorders. The motor unit analysis involved decomposing the IPs into their component motor unit action potentials (MUAPs) using automatic decomposition electromyography (ADEMG). We checked the accuracy of the decompositions by attempting to reconstruct some of the IPs from their identified MUAPs using computer simulations. The simulations revealed that ADEMG typically identified more than 60% (but not all) of the MUAPs in a given IP. Both turns and MUAP properties showed regular and related changes with force, age, muscle, and recording electrode type. The number of turns in each IP was highly correlated with the number of active MUAPs (r = 0.65), the mean MUAP firing rate (r = 0.72), the mean number of turns per MUAP (r = 0.34), and the product of these 3 properties (r = 0.83). The mean amplitude change per turn was highly correlated with the mean MUAP amplitude (r = 0.82), but also depended on the number of turns per MUAP. Due to the lack of a one-to-one relationship between the turns analysis properties and the MUAP properties, the turns analysis properties by themselves did not provide sufficient information to infer unambiguous physiological information about motor unit morphology or firing behavior.

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