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Effect of muscle fatigue on surface electromyography based hand grasp force estimation

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Surface electromyography (sEMG) based hand grasp force estimation plays an important role with a promising accuracy in a laboratory environment, yet hardly clinically applicable because of physiological changes and other factors. One of the critical factors is the muscle fatigue concomitant with daily activities which degrades the accuracy and reliability of force estimation from sEMG signals. Conventional qualitative measurements of muscle fatigue contribute to an improved force estimation model with limited progress. This paper proposes an easy-to-implement method to evaluate the muscle fatigue quantitatively and demonstrates that the proposed metrics can have a substantial impact on improving the performance of hand grasp force estimation. Specifically, the reduction in the maximal capacity to generate force is used as the metric of muscle fatigue in combination with a back-propagation neural network (BPNN) is adopted to build a sEMG-hand grasp force estimation model. Experiments are conducted in the three cases: 1) pooling training data from all muscle fatigue states with time domain feature only. 2) employing frequency domain feature for expression of muscle fatigue information based on case 1. 3) incorporating the quantitative metric of muscle fatigue value as an additional input for estimation model based on case 1. The results show that the degree of muscle fatigue and task intensity can be easily distinguished and the additional input of muscle fatigue in BPNN greatly improves the performance of hand grasp force estimation, which is reflected by the 6.3797% increase in R2 29 (coefficient of determination) value.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Bionics and Biomechanics
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 30 Jan 2021


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