Laser Doppler Myography (LDMi): A Novel Non-Contact Measurement Method for the Muscle Activity

Laser Ther. 2013 Dec 30;22(4):261-8. doi: 10.5978/islsm.13-OR-21.


Background and aims: Electromyography (EMG) is considered the gold-standard for the evaluation of muscle activity. Transversal and dimensional changes of the muscle, during muscle activity, generate vibrational phenomena which can be measured by Laser Doppler Vibrometry (LDVi). There is a relationship between muscle contraction and vibrational activity, therefore, some information on fundamental muscle parameters can be assessed without contact with LDVi. In this paper, we explore the possibility to relate the EMG signal causing the muscle contraction and the vibrational activity also measureable on the muscle. A novel non-contact measurement method - Laser Doppler myography (LDMi) - aiming to measure the vibrational behavior of muscle during contraction, is presented herein. Correlations with some parameters normally measured with EMG are reported.

Materials and methods: The proposed method has been compared with standard superficial EMG (sEMG). Signals produced with sEMG and laser Doppler myography have been simultaneously acquired and processed to test correlations on a population of 20 healthy volunteers. Tests have been carried out on the flexor carpi ulnaris and the tibialis anterior muscles (left and right).

Results: RESULTS show that it is possible to measure: The timing of muscle activation (max differences: 440 ms), the amplitude of the signals acquired during activation respect to the signals during rest (S/N), the correlation between the S/N of the sEMG and LDMi signals at different levels of force (P> 0.89), and to assess muscle fatigue.

Conclusions: LDMi is a valid measurement technique for the assessment of muscle activity and fatigue. It is a non-contact method and this characteristic could suggest its use together with low level laser therapy pre-, intra- and post-LLLT sessions to evaluate the efficacy and effects of the treatments without the need for invasive electrodes.

Keywords: Electromyography; Laser Doppler Vibrometry; muscle activation time.