Estimation of patient-reported outcome measures based on features of knee joint muscle co-activation in advanced knee osteoarthritis

Sci Rep. 2024 May 30;14(1):12428. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-63266-7.


Electromyography (EMG) is considered a potential predictive tool for the severity of knee osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms and functional outcomes. Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), such as the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and visual analog scale (VAS), are used to determine the severity of knee OA. We aim to investigate muscle activation and co-contraction patterns through EMG from the lower extremity muscles of patients with advanced knee OA patients and evaluate the effectiveness of an interpretable machine-learning model to estimate the severity of knee OA according to the WOMAC (pain, stiffness, and physical function) and VAS using EMG gait features. To explore neuromuscular gait patterns with knee OA severity, EMG from rectus femoris, medial hamstring, tibialis anterior, and gastrocnemius muscles were recorded from 84 patients diagnosed with advanced knee OA during ground walking. Muscle activation patterns and co-activation indices were calculated over the gait cycle for pairs of medial and lateral muscles. We utilized machine-learning regression models to estimate the severity of knee OA symptoms according to the PROMs using muscle activity and co-contraction features. Additionally, we utilized the Shapley Additive Explanations (SHAP) to interpret the contribution of the EMG features to the regression model for estimation of knee OA severity according to WOMAC and VAS. Muscle activity and co-contraction patterns varied according to the functional limitations associated with knee OA severity according to VAS and WOMAC. The coefficient of determination of the cross-validated regression model is 0.85 for estimating WOMAC, 0.82 for pain, 0.85 for stiffness, and 0.85 for physical function, as well as VAS scores, utilizing the gait features. SHAP explanation revealed that greater co-contraction of lower extremity muscles during the weight acceptance and swing phases indicated more severe knee OA. The identified muscle co-activation patterns may be utilized as objective candidate outcomes to better understand the severity of knee OA.

Keywords: Co-contraction index; Electromyography; Knee osteoarthritis; Machine-learning; WOMAC.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Gait* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint* / physiopathology
  • Machine Learning
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / physiopathology
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Severity of Illness Index