Electro-mechanical stability of surface EMG sensors

Med Biol Eng Comput. 2007 May;45(5):447-57. doi: 10.1007/s11517-007-0168-z. Epub 2007 Feb 16.


This study compared the performance of surface electromyographic (sEMG) sensors for different detection conditions affecting the electro-mechanical stability between the sensor and its contact with the skin. These comparisons were made to gain a better understanding of how specific characteristics of sensor design and use may alter the ability of sEMG sensors to detect signals with high fidelity under conditions of vigorous activity. The first part of the study investigated the effect of different detection surface contours and adhesive tapes on the ability of the sensor to remain in electrical contact with the skin. The second part of the study investigated the effects of different skin preparations and hydrophilic gels on the production of movement artifact resulting from sinusoidal and impact mechanical perturbations. Both parts of the study evaluated sensor performance under dry skin and wet skin (from perspiration) conditions. We found that contouring the detection surface and adding a more adhesive double-sided tape were effective in increasing the forces needed to disrupt the electrical contact between the electrodes and the skin for both dry skin and wet skin conditions. The mechanical perturbation tests demonstrated that hydrophilic gel applied to the detection surface of the sensor produced greater movement artifacts compared to sensors without gel, particularly when the sensors were tested under conditions in which perspiration was present on the skin. The use of a surfactant skin preparation did not influence the amount of movement artifacts that resulted from either the sinusoidal or impact perturbations. The importance of these findings is discussed in terms of their implications for improving sEMG signal fidelity through sensor design modifications and procedures for interfacing them with the skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Artifacts
  • Electrodes
  • Electromyography / instrumentation*
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis / methods
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Skin Temperature / physiology
  • Sweating / physiology