Alternative Electromyography Sensor Placement Protocol When Preferred Recording Sites Are Unavailable

Author: Zoe Louise Male

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 16 Nov 2028.

Male, Zoe Louise, 2023 Alternative Electromyography Sensor Placement Protocol When Preferred Recording Sites Are Unavailable, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Work-related muscular skeletal disorders (WMSDs) have been identified as one of the worldwide leading causes of degradation of quality of life and ability to perform work. This places great burden on the individual’s quality of life and finances, as well as boarder economic implications in industry. Many workplace and environmental factors contribute to the progression of these disorders, with manual labour and overhead work increasing an individual’s exposure to these factors.

Due to the nature of work within a mining environment, BHP’s workforce are subject to prolonged periods of WMSD risk factors. BHP are seeking to implement bespoke passive upper limb exoskeletons as an intervention to reduce the risk of shoulder related WMSDs. For any new exoskeleton design put forth, testing and validation will be required to compare design and their efficacy. One recommended means of testing is electromyography to observe muscle activation while testing an exoskeleton’s affect on an individual.

This thesis covers the work completed to investigate the application of an alternative electromyography sensor placement protocol, when the recommended sensor site (known as SENIAM) is unavailable due to exoskeleton structure. The project outlines the pilot testing of recommended sensor placement, then combining it with the creation of a sensor template to locate and test alternative sensor sites. A developed testing methodology provided guidelines on muscle contraction and sensor placement, as well as implementing the methodology for data collection. The project aim was met, with the delivery of guidelines on alternative sensor sites that could be used if the recommended site was unavailable, as well as characterisation of the signal expected to be obtained from the given location.

The developed methodology was effective in testing and analysing alternative sensor locations, producing a guideline to assist researchers in locating and interpreting muscle activity from alternative sensor locations. It was found that the recommended location (the SENIAM site) did not always produce the strongest signal across the sensor template. The SENIAM sites were also predicted to have a large amount of mechanical interference when implemented to test exoskeleton efficiency. In these cases, an alternative sensor site with a signal comparable to SENIAM could be recommended. Limitations to the methodology included sensor mechanical interference due to the template size and cross talk of surrounding muscles, with their effects on the results considered. Areas of future research were identified, with considerations made to incorporate a higher density EMG system, smaller electrodes, and better alignment of sensors with muscle fibre direction to improve muscle activation captured.

Keywords: Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder, Electromyography, Sensor, Exoskeleton

Subject: Medical Biotechnology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2023
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: David Hobbs