During breathing, activation of respiratory muscles is coordinated by integrated input from the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. When this coordination is disrupted by spinal cord injury (SCI), control of respiratory muscles innervated below the injury level is compromised leading to respiratory muscle dysfunction and pulmonary complications. These conditions are among the leading causes of death in patients with SCI. Standard pulmonary function tests that assess respiratory motor function include spirometrical and maximum airway pressure outcomes: Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), Forced Expiratory Volume in one second (FEV1), Maximal Inspiratory Pressure (PImax) and Maximal Expiratory Pressure (PEmax). These values provide indirect measurements of respiratory muscle performance(6). In clinical practice and research, a surface electromyography (sEMG) recorded from respiratory muscles can be used to assess respiratory motor function and help to diagnose neuromuscular pathology. However, variability in the sEMG amplitude inhibits efforts to develop objective and direct measures of respiratory motor function. Based on a multi-muscle sEMG approach to characterize motor control of limb muscles, known as the voluntary response index (VRI), we developed an analytical tool to characterize respiratory motor control directly from sEMG data recorded from multiple respiratory muscles during the voluntary respiratory tasks. We have termed this the Respiratory Motor Control Assessment (RMCA). This vector analysis method quantifies the amount and distribution of activity across muscles and presents it in the form of an index that relates the degree to which sEMG output within a test-subject resembles that from a group of healthy (non-injured) controls. The resulting index value has been shown to have high face validity, sensitivity and specificity. We showed previously that the RMCA outcomes significantly correlate with levels of SCI and pulmonary function measures. We are presenting here the method to quantitatively compare post-spinal cord injury respiratory multi-muscle activation patterns to those of healthy individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)