Reflex-mediated dynamic neuromuscular stabilization in stroke patients: EMG processing and ultrasound imaging

Technol Health Care. 2017 Jul 20;25(S1):99-106. doi: 10.3233/THC-171311.


Background: Postural core instability is associated with poor dynamic balance and a high risk of serious falls. Both neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT) and dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS) core stabilization exercises have been used to improve core stability, but the outcomes of these treatments remain unclear.

Objective: This study was undertaken to examine the therapeutic effects of NDT and DNS core stabilization exercises on muscular activity, core stability, and core muscle thickness.

Methods: Ten participants (5 healthy adults; 5 hemiparetic stroke patients) were recruited. Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to determine core muscle activity of the transversus abdominis/internal oblique (TrA/IO), external oblique (EO), and rectus abdominis (RA) muscles. Ultrasound imaging was used to measure transversus abdominals/internal oblique (TrA/IO) thickness, and a pressure biofeedback unit (PBU) was used to measure core stability during the DNS and NDT core exercise conditions. Data are reported as median and range and were compared using nonparametric Mann - Whitney U test and Wilcoxon signed rank test at p< 0.05.

Results: Both healthy and hemiparetic stroke groups showed greater median EMG amplitude in the TrA/IO muscles, core stability, and muscle thickness values during the DNS exercise condition than during the NDT core exercise condition, respectively (p< 0.05). However, the relative changes in the EMG amplitude, core stability, and muscle thickness values were greater during the DNS exercise condition than during the NDT core exercise condition in the hemiparetic stroke patient group (p< 0.05).

Conclusions: Our novel results provide the first clinical evidence that DNS is more effective than NDT in both healthy and hemiparetic stroke subjects to provide superior deep core muscle activation, core stabilization, and muscle thickness. Moreover, such advantageous therapeutic benefits of the DNS core stabilization exercise over the NDT exercise were more apparent in the hemiparetis stroke patients than normal controls.

Keywords: Electromyography signal processing; dynamic neuromuscular stabilization; ultrasound imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdominal Muscles / physiopathology
  • Abdominal Oblique Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdominal Oblique Muscles / physiopathology
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rectus Abdominis / diagnostic imaging
  • Rectus Abdominis / physiopathology
  • Reflex, Righting / physiology*
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods
  • Ultrasonography