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The onset of muscle activity, as measured by electromyography (EMG), is a commonly applied metric in biomechanics. Intramuscular EMG is often used to examine deep musculature and there are currently no studies examining the effectiveness of algorithms for intramuscular EMG onset. The present study examines standard surface EMG onset algorithms (linear envelope, Teager-Kaiser Energy Operator, and sample entropy) and novel algorithms (time series mean-variance analysis, sequential/batch processing with parametric and nonparametric methods, and Bayesian changepoint analysis). Thirteen male and 5 female subjects had intramuscular EMG collected during isolated biceps brachii and vastus lateralis contractions, resulting in 103 trials. EMG onset was visually determined twice by 3 blinded reviewers. Since the reliability of visual onset was high (ICC(1,1): 0.92), the mean of the 6 visual assessments was contrasted with the algorithmic approaches. Poorly performing algorithms were stepwise eliminated via (1) root mean square error analysis, (2) algorithm failure to identify onset/premature onset, (3) linear regression analysis, and (4) Bland-Altman plots. The top performing algorithms were all based on Bayesian changepoint analysis of rectified EMG and were statistically indistinguishable from visual analysis. Bayesian changepoint analysis has the potential to produce more reliable, accurate, and objective intramuscular EMG onset results than standard methodologies.
Tenan, Tweedell, and Haynes are with the United States Army Research Laboratory, Human Research and Engineering Directorate, Integrated Capability Enhancement Branch, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.