Date of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Myklebust, Joel

Second Advisor

Prieto, Thomas E.

Third Advisor

Ropella, Kristina M.


Spasticity and involuntary muscle spasms are problems quite frequently occurring in spinal cord injury cases. Although the symptoms of the spasms can be mitigated by certain drugs like Baclofen and hopeful results have been achieved [88], the mechanism behind the spasticity is not completely understood [23, 30]. It is the intent of this thesis to explore the use of signal analysis of the EMG from involuntary muscle spasms. As part of this concern, a portable, microcontroller based monitor was built that will measure and store EMGs of patients during their 'normal' daily life. This eliminates the need to have the patient come to the laboratory and trigger spasms 'artificially'. Often spasms do not occur when the patient is connected to the laboratory instrumentation. On the other hand equipment is often not readily available when the patient has a spasm. This device can also be used for long term evaluation, for instance to verify drug treatment. Chapter one of this thesis is an introduction to the biomedical aspects of this work. The previous literature is presented with respect to the following areas of interest: EMG recording: instrumentation and signal processing, with a special emphasis on the evaluation of fatigue. Spasticity and involuntary muscle spasms as a problem for patients with spinal cord injuries. Portable biomedical monitors, their technology and constraints. The underlying neurophysiology and anatomy of the spinal cord and the motor system are also described briefly in chapter one. Chapter two describes the development of the aforementioned patient monitor, hardware and software. Chapter three describes the methods that were used to acquire data and the signal processing techniques for data processing. Chapter four shows the results of the data processing. Chapter five incorporates the discussion of the results. Chapter six concludes this thesis with a summary of the results and the suggestions for future directions for this research.



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