Utilising dynamic motor control index to identify age-related differences in neuromuscular control

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Burke, Laura
Khokhlova, Liudmila
O'Flynn, Brendan
Tedesco, Salvatore
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Purpose: Considering the relationship between aging and neuromuscular control decline, early detection of age-related changes can ensure that timely interventions are implemented to attenuate or restore neuromuscular deficits. The dynamic motor control index (DMCI), a measure based on variance accounted for (VAF) by one muscle synergy (MS), is a metric used to assess age-related changes in neuromuscular control. The aim of the study was to investigate the use of one-synergy VAF, and consecutively DMCI, in assessing age-related changes in neuromuscular control over a range of exercises with varying difficulty. Methods: Thirty-one subjects walked on a flat and inclined treadmill, as well as performed forward and lateral stepping up tasks. Motion and muscular activity were recorded, and muscle synergy analysis was conducted using one-synergy VAF, DMCI, and number of synergies. Results: Difference between older and younger group was observed for one-synergy VAF, DMCI for forward stepping up task (one-synergy VAF difference of 2.45 (0.22, 4.68) and DMCI of 9.21 (0.81, 17.61), p = 0.033), but not for lateral stepping up or walking. Conclusion: The use of VAF based metrics and specifically DMCI, rather than number of MS, in combination with stepping forward exercise can provide a low-cost and easy to implement approach for assessing neuromuscular control in clinical settings.
Muscle synergies , Aging , Stepping , Walking , Muscle activity , Motor index
Burke, L., Khokhlova, L., O’Flynn, B. and Tedesco, S. (2024) ‘Utilising dynamic motor control index to identify age-related differences in neuromuscular control’, Human Movement Science, 95, 103200 (9 pp). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2024.103200.
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