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Characterisation of trunk muscle activation amplitude patterns during a simulated checkstand operation with continuously changing flexor and lateral moment demands

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While the typical physical exposure to modern-day workers has changed from heavy to low level repetitive demands, there is limited research that examines light occupations. This study examined trunk muscle recruitment strategies in response to a simulated checkout operation. Surface electromyography and kinematic variables were recorded from 29 healthy subjects. Four principal patterns accounted for 95.3% of the variation. Significant differences in scores captured different strategies in response to reach conditions and external moment directions. Synergistic co-activation of ipsilateral back sites and differential activation among external oblique and erector spinae sites suggests that the central nervous system may control different regions of the trunk musculature to optimally account for asymmetrical demands. The strategy between the internal oblique and back extensor sites suggests that a specific co-activation strategy may be needed during lighter work. During low-load occupational tasks, several recruitment strategies were required to maintain spinal stability and account for changing external moments. Statement of Relevance: Different recruitment strategies found in response to changing external moments offer new insights into neuromuscular control for lighter work. Specifically, multiple trunk muscle sites interact in a complex manner, taking into account task specificity and individual variation that are valuable in workstation design, evaluating injury risk and estimating spinal loads.
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Keywords: activation amplitude patterns; checkstand operations; lifting; pattern recognition; trunk muscle

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Industrial Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada 2: School of Physiotherapy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada,School of Biomedical Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada 3: Department of Industrial Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada,School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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