Electromyography-Assisted Neuromusculoskeletal Models Can Estimate Physiological Muscle Activations and Joint Moments Across the Neck Before Impacts

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Silvestros, P
Pizzolato, C
Lloyd, DG
Preatoni, E
Gill, HS
Cazzola, D
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2022
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Abstract

Knowledge of neck muscle activation strategies before sporting impacts is crucial for investigating mechanisms of severe spinal injuries. However, measurement of muscle activations during impacts is experimentally challenging and computational estimations are not often guided by experimental measurements. We investigated neck muscle activations before impacts with the use of electromyography (EMG)-assisted neuromusculoskeletal models. Kinematics and EMG recordings from four major neck muscles of a rugby player were experimentally measured during rugby activities. A subject-specific musculoskeletal model was created with muscle parameters informed from MRI measurements. The model was used in the calibrated EMG-informed neuromusculoskeletal modeling toolbox and three neural solutions were compared: (i) static optimization (SO), (ii) EMG-assisted (EMGa), and (iii) MRI-informed EMG-assisted (EMGaMRI). EMGaMRI and EMGa significantly (p < 0.01) outperformed SO when tracking cervical spine net joint moments from inverse dynamics in flexion/extension (RMSE = 0.95, 1.14, and 2.32 N·m) but not in lateral bending (RMSE = 1.07, 2.07, and 0.84 N·m). EMG-assisted solutions generated physiological muscle activation patterns and maintained experimental cocontractions significantly (p < 0.01) outperforming SO, which was characterized by saturation and nonphysiological "on-off" patterns. This study showed for the first time that physiological neck muscle activations and cervical spine net joint moments can be estimated without assumed a priori objective criteria before impacts. Future studies could use this technique to provide detailed initial loading conditions for theoretical simulations of neck injury during impacts.

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Journal of biomechanical engineering
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Biomedical engineering
Mechanical engineering
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Silvestros, P; Pizzolato, C; Lloyd, DG; Preatoni, E; Gill, HS; Cazzola, D, Electromyography-Assisted Neuromusculoskeletal Models Can Estimate Physiological Muscle Activations and Joint Moments Across the Neck Before Impacts, Journal of biomechanical engineering, 2022, 144 (3)
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