ABSTRACT Surface Electromyography (EMG) is a standard method used in clinical practice and research to assess motor function in order to help with the diagnosis of neuromuscular pathology in human and animal models. EMG recorded from trunk muscles involved in the activity of breathing can be used as a direct measure of respiratory motor function in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) or other disorders associated with motor control deficits. However, EMG potentials recorded from these muscles are often contaminated with heart-induced electrocardiographic (ECG) signals. Elimination of these artifacts plays a critical role in the precise measure of the respiratory muscle electrical activity. This study was undertaken to find an optimal approach to eliminate the ECG artifacts from EMG recordings. Conventional global filtering can be used to decrease the ECG-induced artifact. However, this method can alter the EMG signal and changes physiologically relevant information. We hypothesize that, unlike global filtering, localized removal of ECG artifacts will not change the original EMG signals. We develop an approach to remove the ECG artifacts without altering the amplitude and frequency components of the EMG signal by using an externally recorded ECG signal as a mask to locate areas of the ECG spikes within EMG data. These segments containing ECG spikes were decomposed into 128 sub-wavelets by a custom-scaled Morlet Wavelet Transform. The ECG-related subwavelets at the ECG spike location were removed and a de-noised EMG signal was reconstructed. Validity of the proposed method was proven using mathematical simulated synthetic signals and EMG obtained from SCI patients. We compare the Rootmean Square Error and the Relative Change in Variance between this method, global, notch and adaptive filters. The results show that the localized wavelet-based filtering has the benefit of not introducing error in the native EMG signal and accurately removing ECG artifacts from EMG signals.
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