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Volume 42 Number 4, July/August 2005
Pages 413 — 422

Abstract - Reliability of surface electromyographic measurements from subjects with spinal cord injury during voluntary motor tasks

Hyun Kyoon Lim, PhD;1-2* Arthur M. Sherwood, PhD1-2

1Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Houston, TX; 2Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Research Care Line, Houston, TX
Abstract — In this study, the reliability of surface electromyographic data (root-mean-square) for volitional motor tasks drawn from a standardized protocol was assessed. For each motor task, 5 s epochs of data were analyzed with a new method to generate a measure called the voluntary response index (VRI). The VRI consists of two components, magnitude and similarity index (SI), that were separately analyzed for repeatability. We examined three repetitions of each of 10 volitional motor tasks in 69 subjects with spinal cord injury (American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] Impairment Scale [AIS], classifications C and D: 34 AIS-C and 35 AIS-D) for short-term (within-day) reliability. In 6 of the 69 subjects (3 each, AIS-C and AIS-D), the entire study was repeated after 1 week and results were assessed for intermediate-term (1 week apart) reliability. The reliability of the method for voluntary motor tasks was assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), analysis of variance, coefficient of variance, and Pearson's correlation. Good reliability was found for magnitude (ICC = 0.71-0.99, Pearson's r = 0.77-0.99) and for SI (ICC = 0.65-0.96, Pearson's r = 0.72-0.93) for three repeated tests (within-day). Significant difference was found for studies completed 1 week apart for magnitude (p = 0.02) but not for SI (p = 0.57). In addition, SI showed less variation than magnitude (p < 0.001). No significant difference of magnitude and SI between tasks was observed.
Key words: central nervous system, electromyography, lower limb, muscle (voluntary), quantitative evaluation, rehabilitation, reliability, similarity index, spinal cord injury, surface electromyography.

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