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Altered muscle activation patterns (AMAP): an analytical tool to compare muscle activity patterns of hemiparetic gait with a normative profile


BACKGROUND:Stroke survivors often have lower extremity sensorimotor impairments, resulting in an inability to sufficiently recruit muscle activity at appropriate times in a gait cycle. Currently there is a lack of a standardized method that allows comparison of muscle activation in hemiparetic gait post-stroke to a normative profile. METHODS:We developed a new tool to quantify altered muscle activation patterns (AMAP). AMAP accounts for spatiotemporal asymmetries in stroke gait by evaluating the deviations of muscle activation specific to each gait sub-phase. It also recognizes the characteristic variability within the healthy population. The inter-individual variability of normal electromyography (EMG) patterns within some sub-phases of the gait cycle is larger compared to others, therefore AMAP penalizes more for deviations in a gait sub-phase with a constant profile (absolute active or inactive) vs variable profile. EMG data were collected during treadmill walking, from eight leg muscles of 34 stroke survivors at self-selected speeds and 20 healthy controls at four different speeds. Stroke survivors' AMAP scores, for timing and amplitude variations, were computed in comparison to healthy controls walking at speeds matched to the stroke survivors' self-selected speeds. RESULTS:Altered EMG patterns in the stroke population quantified using AMAP agree with the previously reported EMG alterations in stroke gait that were identified using qualitative methods. We defined scores ranging between ±2.57 as "normal". Only 9% of healthy controls were outside "normal" window for timing and amplitude. Percentages of stroke subjects outside the "normal" window for each muscle were, Soleus = 79%; 73%, Medial Gastrocnemius = 62%; 79%, Tibialis Anterior = 62%; 59%, and Gluteus Medius = 48%; 51% for amplitude and timing component respectively, alterations were relatively smaller for the other four muscles. Paretic-propulsion was negatively correlated to AMAP scores for the timing component of Soleus. Stroke survivors' self-selected walking speed was negatively correlated with AMAP scores for amplitude and timing of Soleus but only amplitude of Medial gastrocnemius (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS:Our results validate the ability of AMAP to identify alterations in the EMG patterns within the stroke population and its potential to be used to identify the gait phases that may require more attention when developing an optimal gait training paradigm. TRIAL NCT00712179 , Registered July 3rd 2008.

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