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Research Papers

Characterization of the Frequency and Muscle Responses of the Lumbar and Thoracic Spines of Seated Volunteers During Sinusoidal Whole Body Vibration

[+] Author and Article Information
Hassam A. Baig, Ben A. Bulka

Department of Bioengineering,
University of Pennsylvania,
210 S. 33rd Street,
Room 240 Skirkanich Hall,
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Daniel B. Dorman, Bethany L. Shivers

Injury Biomechanics Branch,
Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education,
US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory,
Building 6901,
Fort Rucker, AL 36362

Valeta C. Chancey

Injury Biomechanics Branch,
US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory,
Building 6901,
Fort Rucker, AL 36362

Beth A. Winkelstein

Department of Bioengineering,
University of Pennsylvania,
210 S. 33rd Street,
Room 240 Skirkanich Hall,
Philadelphia, PA 19104
e-mail: winkelst@seas.upenn.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received August 31, 2013; final manuscript received May 20, 2014; accepted manuscript posted July 14, 2014; published online August 6, 2014. Editor: Victor H. Barocas.

This material is declared a work of the US Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

J Biomech Eng 136(10), 101002 (Aug 06, 2014) (7 pages) Paper No: BIO-13-1399; doi: 10.1115/1.4027998 History: Received August 31, 2013; Revised May 20, 2014; Accepted July 14, 2014

Whole body vibration has been postulated to contribute to the onset of back pain. However, little is known about the relationship between vibration exposure, the biomechanical response, and the physiological responses of the seated human. The aim of this study was to measure the frequency and corresponding muscle responses of seated male volunteers during whole body vibration exposures along the vertical and anteroposterior directions to define the transmissibility and associated muscle activation responses for relevant whole body vibration exposures. Seated human male volunteers underwent separate whole body vibration exposures in the vertical (Z-direction) and anteroposterior (X-direction) directions using sinusoidal sweeps ranging from 2 to 18 Hz, with a constant amplitude of 0.4 g. For each vibration exposure, the accelerations and displacements of the seat and lumbar and thoracic spines were recorded. In addition, muscle activity in the lumbar and thoracic spines was recorded using electromyography (EMG) and surface electrodes in the lumbar and thoracic region. Transmissibility was determined, and peak transmissibility, displacement, and muscle activity were compared in each of the lumbar and thoracic regions. The peak transmissibility for vertical vibrations occurred at 4 Hz for both the lumbar (1.55 ± 0.34) and thoracic (1.49 ± 0.21) regions. For X-directed seat vibrations, the transmissibility ratio in both spinal regions was highest at 2 Hz but never exceeded a value of 1. The peak muscle response in both spinal regions occurred at frequencies corresponding to the peak transmissibility, regardless of the direction of imposed seat vibration: 4 Hz for the Z-direction and 2–3 Hz for the X-direction. In both vibration directions, spinal displacements occurred primarily in the direction of seat vibration, with little off-axis motion. The occurrence of peak muscle responses at frequencies of peak transmissibility suggests that such frequencies may induce greater muscle activity, leading to muscle fatigue, which could be a contributing mechanism of back pain.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic illustrating the experimental setup showing placement of accelerometers, infrared diodes, and EMG electrodes on the lumbar and thoracic regions of the spine and seat pad. The Z-(vertical), X-(anteroposterior), and Y-(lateral) directions, and the seat pad acceleration profile are also indicated.

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Fig. 2

Representative data from a single subject undergoing a vertical seat vibration at 4 Hz, showing the acceleration signals acquired from the seat and at L4 (lumbar spine) and at T3 (thoracic spine). Also shown are the corresponding EMG signals acquired from that same subject during the MVC and in the lumbar and thoracic spinal regions during the vibration.

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Fig. 3

The mean transmissibility responses of the lumbar and thoracic spines for Z-direction and X-direction sinusoidal vibration sweeps imposed between 2 and 18 Hz. The transmissibility in the lumbar region in the Z-direction at 3 Hz and 4 Hz and in the X-direction at 2 Hz and 3 Hz is significantly different (#) from all other frequencies but not different from each other. In the thoracic region, the transmissibility in the Z-direction at 2 Hz, 3 Hz, and 4 Hz is significantly different (#) from all other frequencies but not each other. In addition, the transmissibility in the X-direction at 4 Hz in the lumbar region, as well as 2 Hz, 3 Hz, and 4 Hz in the thoracic region are significantly different (*) from all other frequencies.

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Fig. 4

The mean muscle responses in the lumbar and thoracic regions for the Z-direction and X-direction vibration exposures between 2 and 18 Hz. In both spinal regions, the mean muscle activity at 4 Hz and 5 Hz for the Z-direction vibrations is significantly different (#) from activity at all other frequencies but not different from each other. Similarly, the muscle activity at 2 Hz and 3 Hz for both spinal regions during X-direction vibrations are significantly different from all other frequencies (#) but not different from each other. For an anteroposterior (X-direction) vibration sweep, the muscle response at 4 Hz in the lumbar region also is significantly different (*) from all other frequencies.

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Fig. 5

The mean peak-to-peak displacements along all directions of the seat and the markers for the lumbar and thoracic regions of the spine for vibrations in the Z-direction and X-direction between 2 and 5 Hz, showing the primary direction of motion is along the corresponding dominant motion of the seat, with laterally directed (Y-axis) motions being the smallest for all exposures

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