EMG-Based Mobile Assessment System for Neck and Shoulder Fatigue

EMG-Based Mobile Assessment System for Neck and Shoulder Fatigue

Pei Lun Lai (National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan), Hsiu-Sen Chiang (National Taichung University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan) and Qi-An Huang (National Taichung University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJBDAH.2017070103
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The neck and shoulders are the key channels for blood supply to the head. Bad blood circulation cannot only cause dizziness and headache but can also affect the vitality of brain cells and cognitive function. The neck muscles also provide all support for the head, and incorrect posture can put stress on the lower cervical vertebrae, accelerating joint wear and poor blood circulation, leading to hypoxia of neck muscle and tissue, and resulting in muscle fatigue and stiffness. Keeping the neck and shoulders rigid over an extended period, can produce neck and shoulder pain, dizziness and headache, and possibly even memory loss and short-term cognitive impairment, which can thus negatively impact learning ability and work efficiency. In this article, electromyography (EMG) characteristics were extracted through EMG analysis. Test subjects wore sensors while engaged in work or studying. The sensors retrieved EMG data which was then uploaded to a cloud-based platform for computation. A smartphone-based app then allowed users to monitor their own neck and shoulder fatigue in real time. Moreover, based on users' personal basic information, the system recommends personalized exercises to promote neck and shoulder relief, thus promoting comfort and reducing stress.
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Neck and Shoulder Fatigue

Neck and shoulder muscle fatigue can seriously impact work efficiency and quality of life. The definition of muscle fatigue in many studies focuses on fatigue-induced action potential changes or changes in power. Bigland-Ritchie et al. (1986) suggested that reduced maximal capacity of the central nervous system or muscle fatigue from exercise may cause muscles to fail to generate normal force, leaving them unable to maintain the required or desired power output (Gandevia, 2001; Huang et al., 2009). Other scholars have interpreted fatigue from a dynamic perspective as the reduction of maximal power output or maximal capacity to generate force, or failure to maintain a required force or output of power during sustained or repeated muscle contraction (Vøllestad, 1997; Vøllestad et al., 1988).

Fatigue is any reduction in the maximal capacity to generate force or power output; it may be caused by obstructed transmission of motor signals and may result in reduced motor performance and power output. Failure in motor signals in different areas induces different types of fatigue. Failure in neuromuscular transmission between the cerebral cortex and the spinal cord is referred to as central fatigue, while failure in neuromuscular transmission between the spinal cord and muscle fibers is referred to as peripheral fatigue (Edwards, 1981; Benwell et al., 2006).

Neck muscles are divided into anterior/posterior and deep/superficial muscles. Muscles contract and relax in a coordinated manner and play an important role in maintaining cervical spine stability and exercise. Neck muscles are relatively small compared to other muscle groups and, during wakefulness, tend to stay in a contracted state to maintain body position and posture, and this long-term contraction can easily induce muscle fatigue (Edmondston et al., 2011). In addition, smaller muscles are more prone to fatigue for sustain contraction (Harrison et al., 2009).

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