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Characteristics of Lower Leg Muscle Activity in Patients with Cerebral Palsy during Cycling on an Ergometer

Sharon K Demuth, Loretta M Knutson, Eileen G Fowler

Purpose: Cycling on ergometer is often part of rehabilitation programs for patients with cerebral palsy (CP). The present study analyzed activity patterns of individual lower leg muscle during active cycling on ergometer in patients with CP and compared them to similar recordings in healthy participants.

Methods: Electromyographic (EMG) recordings of lower leg muscle activity were collected from 14 adult patients and 10 adult healthy participants. Activity of the following muscles was recorded: Musculus tibialis anterior, Musculus gastrocnemius, Musculus rectus femoris, and Musculus biceps femoris. Besides qualitative analysis also quantitative analysis of individual muscle activity was performed by computing the coefficient of variation of EMG signal amplitude.

Results: More irregular EMG patterns were observed in patients in comparison to healthy participants: agonist antagonist contractions were more frequent, muscle activity measured at

specific points of the cycle path was more variable, and dynamic range of muscle activity along the cycle path was narrower in patients. Hypertonicity was also more frequent in patients.

Conclusion: Muscle activity patterns during cycling differed substantially across patients. It showed irregular nature and occasional sharp high peaks. Dynamic range was also narrower

than in controls. Observations underline the need for individualized cycling training to optimize rehabilitation effects.

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