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Chiropractic Research Review

Dynamic Surface Electromyography for Cervical Flexion

Joint dysfunction caused by soft tissue injury or degeneration may contribute to joint hypomotility, hypermobility, and/or joint instability. Dynamic range of motion (ROM) and dynamic surface electromyography (sEMG) evaluations have been designed with the intention of evaluating the abnormal joint movement patterns that can result from this type of injury.

This study examined ROM and sEMG patterns observed during cervical flexion in two subjects presenting with normal ROM and cervical musculature.

One subject, a 32-year-old woman, was studied with sEMG, assessing the cervical paraspinals and sternocleidomastoid muscles; the second subject, a 37-year-old woman, was studied using an active ROM device.

Evaluation of three cervical movements (lower cervical flexion, upper cervical flexion and combination upper/lower cervical flexion) revealed two distinct movement patterns associated with upper vs. lower cervical flexion, and two distinct sEMG recruitment patterns. The results indicate that these two distinct movements may involve two specific cervical segments and may be associated with the recruitment of different muscle groups.

The authors conclude that "applied clinical research on the cervical spine should use sEMG recordings to assess both the upper and lower flexion movements as the standard for the study of cervical flexion." This conclusion is inappropriate. A study based on two subjects is insufficient to generalize results to the general public.

Cram JR, Kneebone WJ. Cervical flexion: a study of dynamic surface electromyography and range of motion. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Nov./Dec. 1999:22(9), pp570-75. Reprints: Tel: (800) 325-4177 (ext. 4350); Fax: (314) 432-1380

Chiropractic Research Review

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