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Electromyography: Physiology D. Gordon E. Robertson, PhD, FCSB Biomechanics Laboratory, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.

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Presentation on theme: "Electromyography: Physiology D. Gordon E. Robertson, PhD, FCSB Biomechanics Laboratory, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada."— Presentation transcript:

1 Electromyography: Physiology D. Gordon E. Robertson, PhD, FCSB Biomechanics Laboratory, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

2 Nervous System Central Nervous System (cerebellum, cerebrum, brain stem, spinal cord) – conscious control, motor programs Peripheral Nervous System (afferent and efferent motor nerves, various sensory organs) – reflex control, sensory feedback –Somatic nervous system – connect with skeletal muscles Muscles can be excited (contracted) by either system E.g., messages can travel from motor cortex directly to -motoneurons via pyramidal nerve cells in spine, Or a stretched muscle (tendon tap) can send a message via Ia-afferent nerves attached to muscle spindles directly to -motoneurons to cause a reflex contraction 2Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa

3 Central Nervous System Pyramidal nerves (or corticospinal nerve tract) –carry messages from motor cortex to grey matter (anterior or ventral horns) in spinal cord –fastest conduction speeds –most cross from one side of brain to opposite side of body at the medulla oblongata –synapse directly with alpha- motor nerves but most synapse through interneurons 3Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa

4 Peripheral Nervous System Efferent nerves –excite muscles to contract directly (alpha motoneurons) or indirectly (gamma motoneurons) Afferent nerves –carry sensory messages to brain or to motoneurons Muscle Spindles »sense stretch and velocity Golgi Tendon Organs »sense force in the tendons Interneurons –carry messages from one nerve to another –usually inhibitory 4Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa

5 5 Muscle Spindles Muscle spindles ( -efferent nerves) –have excitable muscle fibres called intrafusal fibres that allow spindle excitability to be modulated –in parallel with muscle fibres –act primarily to excite muscles to contract via direct connection with alpha motoneurons and indirectly relax muscles to inhibit contractions of opposing muscles

6 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa6 Muscle Spindles Muscle Spindles ( I a- and II -afferents) –when a muscle is stretched, spindles send messages to the spinal cord via Ia-afferent nerves that can cause the same muscle to respond with a contraction, called the stretch or myotatic reflex –Ia-afferents sense both muscle length and velocity changes –secondary II-afferents sense degree of stretch but not velocity

7 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa7 Golgi Tendon Organs Golgi Tendon Organs ( I b-afferent nerves) –located in tendons and thus are able to sense tension changes –in series with muscle fibres –transmit signals to brain via Ib-afferent nerves –act primarily via interneurons to prevent tearing of muscle by inhibiting contractions

8 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa8 Reflexes (Examples) Stretch Reflex (or monosynaptic or myotatic) are fastest skeletal reflexes since there are no interneurons cause a stretched muscle to contract with least delay

9 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa9 Reflexes (Examples) Flexion Reflex (or nociceptive withdrawal reflex) use interneurons and act to cause flexor muscles to contract after a painful or hot stimulus

10 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa10 Reflexes (Examples) Reciprocal Innervation – when agonists flexors are excited, antagonist ipsilateral extensors are relaxed Crossed Extensor Reflex – excitation of contralateral extensors after ipsilateral flexors have contracted due to a withdrawal reflex Tonic Neck Reflex – flexion of neck facilitates flexor muscles of extremities; neck extension acts vice versa Long-loop Reflex (or functional stretch reflex, transcortical reflex) – acts like the stretch reflex but takes longer and is trainable. Is part of the reason that prestretching a muscle (via a counter-movement) creates a stronger contraction.

11 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa11 Motor Unit One -motoneuron plus all the muscle fibres it enervates Innervation ratio varies with number of fibres per motor unit (large leg muscles have many fibres per motoneuron for stronger responses, facial and eye muscles have few fibres and therefore permit finer movements but weaker contractions)

12 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa12 All-or-none and Tetanus All-or-none Rule – once a motoneuron fires all its muscle fibres must fire Graded muscle force occurs by increasing the rate of muscle firing until tetanus occurs, i.e., fusing of twitches that achieves higher tension in muscles.

13 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa13 Orderly Recruitment Further graded muscle responses occur because of orderly recruitment of motor units, i.e., lowest threshold motoneurons (type I) fire first followed by the next lowest threshold fibres (type IIa). Highest threshold and strongest motor units fire last (type IIb).

14 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa14 Motor Unit Action Potential When an action potential reaches the muscle at localized motor points (innervation points) the sarcoplasmic reticulum and t-tubule system carry the message to all parts of the muscle fibre

15 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa15 Motor Unit Action Potential A rapid electrochemical wave of depolarization travels from the motor point causing the muscle to contract Followed by a slower wave of repolarization and a brief refractory period when it cannot contract The wave of depolarization can be sensed by an electrode and is called the electromyogram (EMG). The repolarization wave is too small to detect.

16 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa16 Electrodes A surface electrode detects the wave of depolarization as it passes below. As the wave approaches, the voltage increases; as it passes underneath the voltage goes to zero; finally as it departs the voltage reverses polarity and gradually declines. This yields a biphasic signal. The biphasic signals are so small that other electrical signals from the environment (called interference) mask them. Solution is to use a differential amplifier.

17 Differential Amplifier Subtracts one signal from another. By placing two electrodes in series over the muscle, the wave of depolarization passes under each electrode one after the other but with a slight delay. Subtraction makes any common signal disappear and identical biphasic signals arriving at different times become a triphasic signal, called the electromyogram (EMG). Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa17

18 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa18 Electromyogram EMG1 under electrode 1 EMG2 under electrode 2 has a slight delay EMG1–EMG2 is the triphasic EMG signal

19 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa19 Electromyogram Each motor units wave of depolarization may be detected by the electrode pair and will have approximately the same shape if the electrode stays at the same place with respect to the muscle. Thus, it is possible to detect the recruitment of single motor units. In most contractions, however, there are many motor units some large, some small, some close and some far from the site so it is usual impossible to tell how many are firing and which fibres are firing (large vs. small). But, EMGs may be used to roughly estimate the level of recruitment and the timing of muscle contractions. two motoneurons exciting five muscle fibres with their associated EMG patterns

20 Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa20 Electromyogram contd Except in very special situations it is NOT possible to use EMGs to estimate the level of force in a muscle. It is also NOT suitable to compare the magnitude of one muscles EMG compared to a different muscles even in the same person. The magnitude of the EMG depends of many factors unrelated to the force and therefore is a relative measure for each muscle. Thus, EMGs are often normalized to specific values such as the muscles maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) or to some standard load.

21 EMGs and Vertical GRFs of Gait Initiation Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa21 R. erector spinae L. erector spinae R. tensor fasciae latae L. tensor fasciae latae R. adductors L. adductors R. tibialis anterior L. tibialis anterior R. (lead) vertical force L. (trail) vertical force

22 EMGs and Vertical GRFs of Gait Initiation yellow line shows start of gait, right legs vertical force increases while lefts decreases right TA then left TA fire to assist forward lean, not shown is the relaxation of the plantar flexors also firing is the right TFL, an abductor Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa22

23 EMGs and Vertical GRFs of Gait Initiation left and to lesser extent right ES turn on just before right toe-off (green line) left TFL fires strongly before single support start and continues to toe-off of left leg (red line) lastly adductors are not fully recruited until full speed gait starts Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Ottawa23


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