Monitoring muscle fatigue using novel wireless sensors
Low back pain (LBP) is a huge problem, with 4 out of 5 people suffering from it at some point in their lives. It often resolves without treatment, but for many people, it persists and becomes chronic. Back pain alone accounts for almost 20% of the UK’s health expenditure and it is a major cause of work absence and disability.
There is evidence that there are changes in the way the muscles of the trunk are controlled in people with chronic LBP. These muscles have been shown, through recording of their electromyographic (EMG) activity, to be more easily fatigable and have poorer endurance. Fatigued muscles are more prone to injury and injuries tend to occur towards the end of prolonged periods of use. Almost all activities of daily living (e.g. sitting, walking, bending, reaching and breathing) involve trunk muscles and changes in their function are seen during the above activities in people with LBP. Monitoring of muscle activity and fatigue over prolonged periods of time is both challenging and impractical in the laboratory setting and there is an obvious need for portable devices to achieve this which enable use in a free living environment. The aim of this project is to advance wearable sensing technology using integrated microelectronics to allow for the first time the monitoring back muscle activity through surface EMG (sEMG) in addition to performing on-node computation to extract parameters of muscle fatigue in real time during activities of daily living outside of the laboratory setting.
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