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Accuracy of EMG linear envelope in identifying the peak of muscular activity during walking.

Gait & Posture 2024 May 4
BACKGROUND: The linear-envelope peak (LEP) of surface EMG signal is widely used in gait analysis to characterize muscular activity, especially in clinics.

RESEARCH QUESTION: This study is designed to evaluate LEP accuracy in identifying muscular activation and assessing activation timing during walking.

METHODS: Surface EMG signals from gastrocnemius lateralis (GL) and tibialis anterior (TA) were analyzed in 100 strides per subject (31 healthy subjects) during ground walking. Signals were full-wave rectified and low-pass filtered (cut-off frequency=5 Hz) to extract the linear envelope. LEP accuracy in identifying muscle activations and the associated error in peak detection were assessed by direct comparison with a reference method based on wavelet transform. LEP accuracy in identifying the timing of higher signalenergy levels was also assessed, increasing the reference-algorithm selectivity.

RESULTS: The detection error (percentage number of times when LEP falls outside the correspondent reference activation interval) is close to zero. Detection error increases up to 70% for intervals including only signal energy higher than 90% of energy peak. Mean absolute error (MAE, the absolute value of the distance between LEP timing and the correspondent actual timing of the sEMG-signal peak computed by reference algorithm) is 54.1±20.0 ms. Detection error and MAE are significantly higher (p<0.05) in TA data compared to GL signals. Differences among MAE values detected adopting different values for LE cut-off frequency are not statistically significant.

SIGNIFICANCE: LEP was found to be accurate in identifying the number of muscle activations during walking. However, the use of LEP to assess the timing of highest sEMG-signal energy (signal peak) should be considered carefully. Indeed, it could introduce a relevant inaccuracy in muscle-activation identification and peak-timing quantification. The type of muscle to analyze could also influence LEP performances, while the cut-off frequency chosen for envelope extraction appears to have a limited impact.

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