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Laura Seidl, Danijel Tosovic and J. Mark Brown

Whole muscle mechanomyography (MMG) has gained considerable interest in recent years for its ability to noninvasively determine muscle contractile properties (ie, contraction time [Tc], half-relaxation time [1/2Tr], and maximal displacement [Dmax)]). The aim of this study was to evaluate the test-retest reliability of two fairly novel MMG transducers: a laser-displacement sensor (LDS) and contact-displacement sensor (CDS). MMG was conducted on the rectus femoris muscle of 30 healthy individuals on 4 separate occasions. Test-retest reliability was quantified using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). Both sensors were reliable for time-derived parameters Tc (ICCs, 0.85–0.88) and 1/2Tr (0.77–0.89), with Dmax identified as the most reproducible parameter (0.89–0.94). The 2 sensors produced similar Tc and Dmax measures, although significant (P < .05) systematic bias was identified with the CDS recording higher mean values, on average. However, these differences may not be considered clinically significant. The wide limits of agreement identified between 1/2Tr measures (–19.0 ms and 25.2 ms) are considered unreliable from a clinical perspective. Overall, MMG demonstrated good-to-excellent reliability for the assessment of muscle contractile properties with no significant differences identified between sessions, thus further validating its applicability as a noninvasive measure of muscle contractile properties.

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Sabrina S.M. Lee, Gregory S. Lewis and Stephen J. Piazza

The accuracy of an algorithm for the automated tracking of tendon excursion from ultrasound images was tested in three experiments. Because the automated method could not be tested against direct measurements of tendon excursion in vivo, an indirect validation procedure was employed. In one experiment, a wire “phantom” was moved a known distance across the ultrasound probe and the automated tracking results were compared with the known distance. The excursion of the musculotendinous junction of the gastrocnemius during frontal and sagittal plane movement of the ankle was assessed in a single cadaver specimen both by manual tracking and with a cable extensometer sutured to the gastrocnemius muscle. A third experiment involved estimation of Achilles tendon excursion in vivo with both manual and automated tracking. Root mean squared (RMS) error was calculated between pairs of measurements after each test. Mean RMS errors of less than 1 mm were observed for the phantom experiments. For the in vitro experiment, mean RMS errors of 8–9% of the total tendon excursion were observed. Mean RMS errors of 6–8% of the total tendon excursion were found in vivo. The results indicate that the proposed algorithm accurately tracks Achilles tendon excursion, but further testing is necessary to determine its general applicability.

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Jeremy R. Dicus and Jeff G. Seegmiller

Few ankle inversion studies have taken anticipation bias into account or collected data with an experimental design that mimics actual injury mechanisms. Twenty-three participants performed randomized single-leg vertical drop landings from 20 cm. Subjects were blinded to the landing surface (a flat force plate or 30° inversion wedge on the force plate). After each trial, participants reported whether they anticipated the landing surface. Participant responses were validated with EMG data. The protocol was repeated until four anticipated and four unanticipated landings onto the inversion wedge were recorded. Results revealed a significant main effect for landing condition. Normalized vertical ground reaction force (% body weights), maximum ankle inversion (degrees), inversion velocity (degrees/second), and time from contact to peak muscle activation (seconds) were significantly greater in unanticipated landings, and the time from peak muscle activation to maximum VGRF (second) was shorter. Unanticipated landings presented different muscle activation patterns than landings onto anticipated surfaces, which calls into question the usefulness of clinical studies that have not controlled for anticipation bias.

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Sean P. Flanagan and George J. Salem

In the analysis of human movement, researchers often sum individual joint kinetics to obtain a single measure of lower extremity function. The extent to which these summed measures relate to the mechanical objectives of the task has not been formally validated. The criterion validity of these measures was established with comparisons to the mechanical objective of two multiple-joint tasks. For the Work task 18 participants performed a loaded barbell squat using 4 resistances while instrumented for biomechanical analysis. For the Power they performed 2 predetermined amounts of work at both self-selected and fast speeds. Using inverse dynamics techniques, the peak net joint moment (PM) was calculated bilaterally in the sagittal plane at the ankle, knee, and hip and was summed into a single measure. This measure was correlated with the task objectives using simple linear regression. Similar procedures were used for the average net joint moment (AM), peak (PP), and average (AP) net joint moment power, and the net joint moment impulse (IM) and work (IP). For the Work task all 6 measures were significantly correlated with the task objective, but only AM, PM, and IP had correlation coefficients above 0.90. For the Power task, IM was not significantly correlated with the task objective, and only AP had a correlation coefficient above 0.90. These findings indicate that the validity of summing individual kinetic measures depends on both the measure chosen and the mechanical objective of the task.

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Stefan C. Garcia, Jeffrey J. Dueweke and Christopher L. Mendias

Context: Manual isometric muscle testing is a common clinical technique used to assess muscle strength. To provide the most accurate data for the test, the muscle being assessed should be at a length in which it produces maximum force. However, there is tremendous variability in the recommended positions and joint angles used to conduct these tests, with few apparent objective data used to position the joint such that muscle-force production is greatest. Objective: To use validated anatomically and biomechanically based musculoskeletal models to identify the optimal joint positions in which to perform manual isometric testing. Design: In silico analysis. Main outcome measure: The joint position which produces maximum muscle force for 49 major limb and trunk muscles. Results: The optimal joint position for performing a manual isometric test was determined. Conclusion: Using objective anatomical models that take into account the force-length properties of muscles, the authors identified joint positions in which net muscle-force production was predicted to be maximal. This data can help health care providers to better assess muscle function when manual isometric strength tests are performed.

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Suzanne LaScalza, Linda N. Gallo, James E. Carpenter and Richard E. Hughes

Clinical observation suggests that shoulder pathologies such as rotator cuff disorders and shoulder instability may alter the normal shoulder rhythm or relative motions of the structures comprising the shoulder girdle. The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy of using a skin-mounted humeral cuff that could be used in vivo to determine Euler rotation angles and the helical axis of motion (HAM) during upper extremity movements. An in vitro model was used to compare the kinematics determined from the externally applied humeral cuff to the kinematics measured directly from the humerus. The upper extremities of five cadavers were moved through several humerus and forearm motion trials. Measurements from the humeral cuff were compared directly to the bone measurements for all trials to determine the accuracy of the Euler rotation angles. In evaluating the HAM, the orientation, location, and magnitude of rotation were compared either to the bone measurements or to the known rotational axis of the testing fixture. Euler rotation angles and the helical axis of motion determined by the measurements taken from the skin-mounted humeral cuff were very similar to those using the measurements from the bone-mounted sensor. The humeral cuff was shown to provide a viable, noninvasive method for determining the Euler rotation angles and helical axis of motion during 3-D humeral movements. The validation makes the humeral cuff a valuable tool for examining the effect of shoulder pathologies on the kinematics of the upper extremity.

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John F. Swigart, Arthur G. Erdman and Patrick J. Cain

A new method for quantifying shoe cushioning durability was developed. This method used a computer-controlled, closed-loop materials testing system to subject the shoes to force-time profiles that were indicative of running. The change in the magnitude of the maximum energy absorbed by a shoe and the change in the magnitude of the energy balance of the shoe were quantified after the shoe had been worn running for a given distance. A shoe that changed very little in these quantities had a small energy wear factor and was deemed to have durable cushioning. The test method was roughly validated through comparison of three shoes of different midsole constructions with known relative durabilities. The shoes were tested at four simulated running speeds for energy properties when they were new and after they were run in for 161 km. The relative durabilities of the tested shoes were consistent with expectations based on the shoes' materials and constructions, showing that the new method has promise in predicting shoe cushioning durability, and thus more complete studies of the method may prove useful.

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Andreas Krüger and Jürgen Edelmann-Nusser

This study aims at determining the accuracy of a full body inertial measurement system in a real skiing environment in comparison with an optical video based system. Recent studies have shown the use of inertial measurement systems for the determination of kinematical parameters in alpine skiing. However, a quantitative validation of a full body inertial measurement system for the application in alpine skiing is so far not available. For the purpose of this study, a skier performed a test-run equipped with a full body inertial measurement system in combination with a DGPS. In addition, one turn of the test-run was analyzed by an optical video based system. With respect to the analyzed angles, a maximum mean difference of 4.9° was measured. No differences in the measured angles between the inertial measurement system and the combined usage with a DGPS were found. Concerning the determination of the skier’s trajectory, an additional system (e.g., DGPS) must be used. As opposed to optical methods, the main advantages of the inertial measurement system are the determination of kinematical parameters without the limitation of restricted capture volume, and small time costs for the measurement preparation and data analysis.

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John H. Challis

This article presents and evaluates a new procedure that automatically determines the cutoff frequency for the low-pass filtering of biomechanical data. The cutoff frequency was estimated by exploiting the properties of the autocorrelation function of white noise. The new procedure systematically varies the cutoff frequency of a Butterworth filter until the signal representing the difference between the filtered and unfiltered data is the best approximation to white noise as assessed using the autocorrelation function. The procedure was evaluated using signals generated from mathematical functions. Noise was added to these signals so mat they approximated signals arising from me analysis of human movement. The optimal cutoff frequency was computed by finding the cutoff frequency that gave me smallest difference between the estimated and true signal values. The new procedure produced similar cutoff frequencies and root mean square differences to me optimal values, for me zeroth, first and second derivatives of the signals. On the data sets investigated, this new procedure performed very similarly to the generalized cross-validated quintic spline.

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Boris I. Prilutsky

In this response, the major criticisms of the target article are addressed. Terminology from the target article that may have caused some confusion is clarified. In particular, the tasks that have the basic features of muscle coordination, as identified in the target article, have been limited in scope. Anew metabolic optimization criterion suggested by Alexander (2000) is examined for its ability to predict muscle coordination in walking. Issues concerning the validation of muscle force predictions, the rules of muscle coordination, and the role of directional constraints in coordination of two-joint muscles are discussed. It is shown in particular that even in one-joint systems, the forces predicted by the criterion of Crowninshield and Brand (1981) depend upon the muscle moment arms and the physiological cross-sectional areas in much more complex ways than either previously assumed in the target article, or incorrectly derived by Herzog and Ait-Haddou (2000). It is concluded that the criterion of Crowninshield and Brand qualitatively predicts the basic coordination features of the major one- and two-joint muscles in a number of highly skilled, repetitive motor tasks performed by humans under predictable conditions and little demands on stability and accuracy. A possible functional significance of such muscle coordination may be the minimization of perceived effort, muscle fatigue, and/or energy expenditure.