Repeatability of electromyography recordings and muscle synergies during gait among children with cerebral palsy

Katherine M. Steele, Meghan E. Munger, Keshia M. Peters, Benjamin R. Shuman, Michael H. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Clinical gait analysis is commonly used in the evaluation and treatment of children with cerebral palsy (CP). While the repeatability of kinematic and kinetic measures of gait has previously been evaluated, the repeatability of electromyography (EMG) recordings or measures calculated from EMG data, such as muscle synergies, remains unclear for this population. Research question: Are EMG recordings and muscle synergies from clinical gait analysis repeatable between visits for children with CP? Methods: We recruited 20 children with bilateral CP who had been referred for clinical gait analysis. The children completed two visits less than six weeks apart with EMG data collected bilaterally from five muscles (rectus femoris, medial hamstrings, vastus lateralis, anterior tibialis, and medial gastrocnemius). Variance ratio and cosine similarity were used to evaluate repeatability of EMG waveforms between visits. Nonnegative matrix factorization was used to calculate synergies from EMG data at each visit to compare synergy weights and activations. Results & significance: The inter-visit variance ratios of EMG data for children with CP were similar to previously reported results for typically-developing children and unimpaired adults (range: 0.39 for vastus lateralis to 0.66 for rectus femoris). The average cosine similarity of the EMG waveforms between visits was greater than 0.9 for all muscles, while synergy weights and activations also had high similarity – greater than 0.8 and 0.9 between visits, respectively. These results demonstrate that EMG repeatability between visits during clinical gait analysis for children with CP is similar to unimpaired individuals. These results provide a baseline for evaluating whether observed changes in EMG recordings between visits reflect real changes in muscle activity or are within the range of inter-visit variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-295
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the staff at the Center for Gait & Motion Analysis at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare for their assistance with data collection. This research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health under grant number R01NS091056 , as well as graduate student funding from the Washington Research Foundation Funds for Innovation in Neuroengineering.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Clinical gait analysis
  • Inter-day reliability
  • Minimal detectable change
  • Motor modules
  • Walking


Dive into the research topics of 'Repeatability of electromyography recordings and muscle synergies during gait among children with cerebral palsy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this