The usefulness of surface electromyography in rehabilitation and physiotherapy: systematic review

Aleksandra Radecka, Anna Lubkowska


Introduction: Technological developments in surface electromyography (sEMG) equipment are providing more and more new opportunities in the application of this technique in different fields, not just in clinical medicine but also in physiotherapy.

The purpose of this study is an educational review that provides examples of the clinical use of sEMG in rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

Materials and methods: Studies were searched for on the PubMed and ScienceDirect databases using the following descriptors: “sEMG rehabilitation”, “sEMG physiotherapy”, “surface electromyography physiotherapy”, “surface electromyography rehabilitation”, resulting in 28,040 citations in total. After reviewing for inclusion criteria – methodological quality assessment using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale and consistency with the theme of systematic review – 28,023 studies were removed from the analysis.

Results: The qualified 14 works were divided into 4 categories depending on the sEMG application area: urogenital system dysfunction (322 patients, PEDro scale average rating of 6.33), central nervous system damage (120 patients, PEDro scale average rating of 6.6), lower back pain (181 patients, PEDro scale average rating of 5.33) and musculoskeletal disorders (244 patients, PEDro scale average rating of 6.66).

Conclusions: The most recent examples of the use of sEMG in intervention studies in rehabilitation and physiotherapy in the last 5 years concerned neurology, urology, gynaecology, paediatrics, pulmonary medicine and orthopaedics.

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