Electromyography-informed modeling for estimating muscle activation and force alterations in Parkinson’s disease

Marco Romanato, Daniele Volpe, Annamaria Guiotto, Fabiola Spolaor, Massimo Sartori, Zimi Sawacha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
182 Downloads (Pure)


Electromyography (EMG)-driven neuromusculoskeletal modeling (NMSM) enables simulating the mechanical function of multiple muscle-tendon units as controlled by nervous system in the generation of complex movements. In the context of clinical assessment this may enable understanding biomechanical factor contributing to gait disorders such as one induced by Parkinson’s disease (PD). In spite of the challenges in the development of patient-specific models, this preliminary study aimed at establishing a feasible and noninvasive experimental and modeling pipeline to be adopted in clinics to detect PD-induced gait alterations. Four different NMSM have been implemented for three healthy controls using CEINMS, an OpenSim-compatible toolbox. Models differed in the EMG-normalization methods used for calibration purposes (i.e. walking trial normalization and maximum voluntary contraction normalization) and in the set of experimental EMGs used for the musculotendon-unit mapping (i.e. 4 channels vs. 15 channels). Model accuracy assessment showed no statistically significant differences between the more complete model (non-clinically viable) and the proposed reduced one (clinically viable). The clinically viable reduced model was systematically applied on a dataset including ten PD’s and thirteen healthy controls. Results showed significant differences in the neuromuscular control strategy of the PD group in term of muscle forces and joint torques. Indeed, PD patients displayed a significantly lower magnitude on force production and revealed a higher amount of force variability with the respect of the healthy controls. The estimated variables could become a measurable biomechanical outcome to assess and track both disease progression and its impact on gait in PD subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-26
Number of pages13
JournalComputer methods in biomechanics and biomedical engineering
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • EMG-informed approach
  • Gait analysis
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Neuromusculoskeletal modeling
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Rehabilitation
  • 22/1 OA procedure


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