Today’s blog post comes from Noraxon’s Clinical Gait & Sports Performance Specialist Sally Crawford, MS, Biomedical Engineer. Noraxon is a leader in manufacturing and distributing high-end tethered and wireless surface and fine-wire electromyography (EMG) instruments, software, sensors, and accessories.Thanks Sally!
Surface electromyography (SEMG) offers therapists a goldmine of measurable patient data, including muscle recruitment, imbalances, timing patterns, pre- and post-treatment differences, and training successes. Having access to such a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use system allows clinicians to wirelessly measure muscle activity and precisely evaluate patterns in functional movements. In our current therapeutic environment, where competition and the pursuit of athletic excellence are more extreme than ever, SEMG gives clinics a competitive advantage in treatment.
Figure 1: Dynamic Activity with Direct Transmission SEMG, transmitted to a laptop on the track.
Because wireless SEMG delivers amazing insight into the body’s neuromuscular and biomechanical framework, both of which are not visible to the naked eye, therapists are able to better answer questions that may have otherwise led to misdiagnosis or loss of hope in recovery. With SEMG, therapists can locate the actual mechanism causing impairment or dysfunction so they can treat the cause of the pain, not just the symptoms.
Figure 2: Force Distribution Measurement Treadmill
Research has shown that abnormal foot function may be the cause of abnormal strain on the soft-tissue structures of the ankle, knee, hip, and low-back, causing chronic pain and disability. The Force Distribution Measurement Treadmill (FDM-T) is a state-of-the-art integrated foot pressure and video gait analysis system that, when coupled with SEMG, can identify underlying biomechanical causes of lower-limb complaints. With hundreds of video and SEMG-synchronized force sensors built into the foot strike area of the treadmill, the system assesses gait and posture problems the human eye couldn’t. Therapists can also use the system to determine whether or not foot orthotic devices are having the desired effect on lower-limb and whole-body functioning.
Figure 3: SEMG coupled with Ground Force Reaction from Instrumented FDM-T system.
These comprehensive solutions allow therapists to accurately and objectively determine if walking and running patterns are indicative of a greater issue or simply a result of muscular weakness. While a muscle may feel strong manually, it might not be recruiting efficiently or symmetrically. Training this muscle correctly with SEMG biofeedback, however, quickly allows both patient and therapist to identify normal functionality and thus the patient can regain his or her body’s balanced kinematics faster.
Figure 4 Instant Gait reports, all kinematic, spatial, and temporal information, coupled with SEMG.
With measurement solutions like SEMG with FDM-T, therapists can eliminate much of the guesswork in determining whether a prescribed exercise is targeting the correct muscle or if a patient can maintain symmetrical activity during varied-speed walking or running. And, combined with an evaluation and a digital video analysis, SEMG provides incredible information about what’s really happening when a patient performs a dynamic movement that results in pain.
With SEMG, clinicians and patients alike are afforded that extra bit of unbiased, neuromuscular feedback necessary to diagnose and treat problems correctly. It can make all the difference for your clinic, but most importantly, your patients.