Muscle Fatigue Lab



Serge Roy, Research Professor


The Muscle Fatigue Lab is supervised by Professor Serge H. Roy. The purpose of the lab is to develop and implement surface electromyographic (EMG) techniques to objectively measure muscle impairments on the basis of estimates of localized muscle fatigue. The research is based on the fact that the frequency spectrum of the EMG signal detected with surface electrodes changes in a systematic fashion during sustained contractions.

Much of the research in the past has focused on isometric, constant-force contractions. The Muscle Fatigue Monitor and the Back Analysis System evolved in this laboratory from such efforts. Exciting new methods are under development using time-frequency algorithms to expand the research applications to dynamic, repetitive contractions. This is a significant breakthrough for the laboratory and has opened up the realm of applications of the technique to tasks that are by nature more functionally relevant to the home and work environment. As a result, we have expanded our efforts to compare EMG-based impairment measures with standardized measures of outcome and disability in the home and workplace.

Similarly, a greater number of our projects include collaborations with the Motion Analysis Laboratory for body kinematic/kinetic measurements and model development, and the Signal Processing Laboratory, for time-frequency analysis methods. Our application of these procedures to clinical and ergonomic studies are currently focused on repetitive lifting, for patients with lower back pain, and repetitive squats, for patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury of the knee. These projects share a common purpose of gaining a better understanding of the role of localized muscle fatigue in injury mechanisms and prevention.