Volume 44 Number 4 2007
Pages 599 — 610

Abstract - Comparison of spectral and entropic measures for surface electromyography time series: A pilot study

Paul S. Sung, PhD, DHSc, PT;1* Ulrich Zurcher, PhD;2 Miron Kaufman, PhD2

Departments of 1Health Sciences and 2Physics, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH

Abstract — In a previous study, we reported that the mean square displacement calculated from the surface electromyography (sEMG) signal of low back muscles exhibits a plateaulike behavior for intermediate times 20 ms < t < 400 ms. This property indicates the existence of correlations in the signal for times much longer than the inverse of the median frequency (MF), which is calculated from the power spectrum 1/<f  > = 1/(100 Hz) = 10 ms, where <f  > is the MF. This result suggests the use of methods from nonlinear analysis to characterize sEMG time series. In this study, we applied these techniques to sEMG signals and calculated the time-dependent entropy. The results showed that the entropy of physiological time series from nondisabled control subjects is higher than the entropy from subjects with low back pain (LBP). The entropy reveals properties of the sEMG signal that are not captured by the power spectrum. In turn, this suggests a possible benefit of entropy as a tool for the clinical assessment of LBP. Because the two groups of subjects were not matched by age, the physiological origin of the observed differences between groups could be attributed to either LBP, age, or both. Additional studies with larger sample sizes and age-matched subjects are needed to investigate the relationship between LBP and entropy.

Key words: clinical assessment, complexity, disability, electromyography, entropy, fatigability, fluctuations, low back pain, nonlinear time series, time correlations.

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