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Shoulder muscular activity in individuals with low back pain and spinal cord injury during seated manual load transfer tasks

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This study aimed to compare the activity of four shoulder muscles in individuals with low back pain (LBP), spinal cord injuries (SCI) and a control group, during one-handed load transfer trials. Nine individuals with minimum one-year of LBP, eleven with thoracic/lumbar SCI and nine healthy controls participated in this study. The activations of anterior deltoid, upper trapezius, infraspinatus and pectoralis major were recorded by surface EMG during one-handed transferring of a cylinder from a home shelve to six spatially distributed target shelves. The integrated EMG values were compared using repeated measure ANOVA. Both LBPs and SCIs had higher anterior deltoid activation and LBPs required more upper trapezius activation than controls (p < 0.05). The spatial position of the targets also significantly influenced demands for these two muscles. The anterior deltoid and upper trapezius in LBP and SCI individuals are under higher demand during occupational load transfer tasks.

Practitioner Summary: This study aimed to compare the activation of four shoulder muscles in individuals with low back pain, spinal cord injuries and healthy condition. EMG analysis showed that the injured groups required more upper trapezius and anterior deltoid activation during load transfer tasks, which may predispose them to muscle overexertion.
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Keywords: EMG: electromyography; LBP: low back pain; LSD: least significant difference; MVC: maximal voluntary contraction; RMS: root mean square; SCI: spinal cord injury; SD: standard deviation; Shoulder; iEMG: integrated electromyography; load transferring tasks; low back pain; spinal cord injuries; workplace design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Digital Industrial Ergonomics and Shoulder Evaluation Laboratory (DIESEL), Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada 2: Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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