43 research outputs found

    Clinical Relevance of State-of-the-Art Analysis of Surface Electromyography in Cerebral Palsy

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    Surface electromyography (sEMG) can be used to assess the integrity of the neuromuscular system and its impairment in neurological disorders. Here we will consider several issues related to the current clinical applications, difficulties and limited usage of sEMG for the assessment and rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy. The uniqueness of this methodology is that it can determine hyperactivity or inactivity of selected muscles, which cannot be assessed by other methods. In addition, it can assist for intervention or muscle/tendon surgery acts, and it can evaluate integrated functioning of the nervous system based on multi-muscle sEMG recordings and assess motor pool activation. The latter aspect is especially important for understanding impairments of the mechanisms of neural controllers rather than malfunction of individual muscles. Although sEMG study is an important tool in both clinical research and neurorehabilitation, the results of a survey on the clinical relevance of sEMG in a typical department of pediatric rehabilitation highlighted its limited clinical usage. We believe that this is due to limited knowledge of the sEMG and its neuromuscular underpinnings by many physiotherapists, as a result of lack of emphasis on this important methodology in the courses taught in physical therapy schools. The lack of reference databases or benchmarking software for sEMG analysis may also contribute to the limited clinical usage. Despite the existence of educational and technical barriers to a widespread use of, sEMG does provide important tools for planning and assessment of rehabilitation treatments for children with cerebral palsy

    Evaluation of Spatiotemporal Patterns of the Spinal Muscle Coordination Output during Walking in the Exoskeleton

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    Recent advances in the performance and evaluation of walking in exoskeletons use various assessments based on kinematic/kinetic measurements. While such variables provide general characteristics of gait performance, only limited conclusions can be made about the neural control strategies. Moreover, some kinematic or kinetic parameters are a consequence of the control implemented on the exoskeleton. Therefore, standard indicators based on kinematic variables have limitations and need to be complemented by performance measures of muscle coordination and control strategy. Knowledge about what happens at the spinal cord output level might also be critical for rehabilitation since an abnormal spatiotemporal integration of activity in specific spinal segments may result in a risk for abnormalities in gait recovery. Here we present the PEPATO software, which is a benchmarking solution to assess changes in the spinal locomotor output during walking in the exoskeleton with respect to reference data on normal walking. In particular, functional and structural changes at the spinal cord level can be mapped into muscle synergies and spinal maps of motoneuron activity. A user-friendly software interface guides the user through several data processing steps leading to a set of performance indicators as output. We present an example of the usage of this software for evaluating walking in an unloading exoskeleton that allows a person to step in simulated reduced (the Moon's) gravity. By analyzing the EMG activity from lower limb muscles, the algorithms detected several performance indicators demonstrating differential adaptation (shifts in the center of activity, prolonged activation) of specific muscle activation modules and spinal motor pools and increased coactivation of lumbar and sacral segments. The software is integrated at EUROBENCH facilities to benchmark the performance of walking in the exoskeleton from the point of view of changes in the spinal locomotor output

    Higher Responsiveness of Pattern Generation Circuitry to Sensory Stimulation in Healthy Humans Is Associated with a Larger Hoffmann Reflex

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    Simple Summary Individual differences in the sensorimotor circuitry play an important role for understanding the nature of behavioral variability and developing personalized therapies. While the spinal network likely requires relatively rigid organization, it becomes increasingly evident that adaptability and inter-individual variability in the functioning of the neuronal circuitry is present not only in the brain but also in the spinal cord. In this study we investigated the relationship between the excitability of pattern generation circuitry and segmental reflexes in healthy humans. We found that the high individual responsiveness of pattern generation circuitries to tonic sensory input in both the upper and lower limbs was related to larger H-reflexes. The results provide further evidence for the importance of physiologically relevant assessments of spinal cord neuromodulation and the individual physiological state of reflex pathways. The state and excitability of pattern generators are attracting the increasing interest of neurophysiologists and clinicians for understanding the mechanisms of the rhythmogenesis and neuromodulation of the human spinal cord. It has been previously shown that tonic sensory stimulation can elicit non-voluntary stepping-like movements in non-injured subjects when their limbs were placed in a gravity-neutral unloading apparatus. However, large individual differences in responsiveness to such stimuli were observed, so that the effects of sensory neuromodulation manifest only in some of the subjects. Given that spinal reflexes are an integral part of the neuronal circuitry, here we investigated the extent to which spinal pattern generation excitability in response to the vibrostimulation of muscle proprioceptors can be related to the H-reflex magnitude, in both the lower and upper limbs. For the H-reflex measurements, three conditions were used: stationary limbs, voluntary limb movement and passive limb movement. The results showed that the H-reflex was considerably higher in the group of participants who demonstrated non-voluntary rhythmic responses than it was in the participants who did not demonstrate them. Our findings are consistent with the idea that spinal reflex measurements play important roles in assessing the rhythmogenesis of the spinal cord

    Immature Spinal Locomotor Output in Children with Cerebral Palsy

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    Cappellini G, P. Ivanenko Y, Martino G, et al. Immature Spinal Locomotor Output in Children with Cerebral Palsy. Frontiers in Physiology. 2016;7:478

    Complexity of modular neuromuscular control increases and variability decreases during human locomotor development

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    When does modular control of locomotion emerge during human development? One view is that modularity is not innate, being learnt over several months of experience. Alternatively, the basic motor modules are present at birth, but are subsequently reconfigured due to changing brain-body-environment interactions. One problem in identifying modular structures in stepping infants is the presence of noise. Here, using both simulated and experimental muscle activity data from stepping neonates, infants, preschoolers, and adults, we dissect the influence of noise, and identify modular structures in all individuals, including neonates. Complexity of modularity increases from the neonatal stage to adulthood at multiple levels of the motor infrastructure, from the intrinsic rhythmicity measured at the level of individual muscles activities, to the level of muscle synergies and of bilateral intermuscular network connectivity. Low complexity and high variability of neuromuscular signals attest neonatal immaturity, but they also involve potential benefits for learning locomotor tasks

    Adjustments in the range of angular motion during walking after amputation of the toes: a case report

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    The forefoot plays an important role in providing body support and propulsion during walking. We investigated the effect of forefoot dysfunction on the gait pattern of a young adult with partial bilateral amputation of the toes. We measured our participant’s gait kinematics during barefoot and shod overground walking and analysed time-distance and joint range of motion (RoM) parameters against a group of healthy adults. Forefoot dysfunction gait is improved by footwear and walking experience; however, this improvement was still remarkably different (exceeded 95% CI) when compared to healthy gait at matching walking speed. Compared to healthy gait, walking barefoot had a slower speed and a 30% reduction in ankle and knee joint RoM, but a larger hip RoM. Shod gait resulted in a remarkable increase in ankle RoM and walking speed compared to barefoot gait. These results are consistent with the important role of the forefoot (tarsals and metatarsophalangeal joints) and suggest that footwear can facilitate gait function following toe amputation

    Human Postural Control

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    From ancient Greece to nowadays, research on posture control was guided and shaped by many concepts. Equilibrium control is often considered part of postural control. However, two different levels have become increasingly apparent in the postural control system, one level sets a distribution of tonic muscle activity (“posture”) and the other is assigned to compensate for internal or external perturbations (“equilibrium”). While the two levels are inherently interrelated, both neurophysiological and functional considerations point toward distinct neuromuscular underpinnings. Disturbances of muscle tone may in turn affect movement performance. The unique structure, specialization and properties of skeletal muscles should also be taken into account for understanding important peripheral contributors to postural regulation. Here, we will consider the neuromechanical basis of habitual posture and various concepts that were rather influential in many experimental studies and mathematical models of human posture control