Repeatability of kinematic and electromyographical measures during standing and trunk motion: how many trials are sufficient?

Research paper by Alison A Schinkel-Ivy, Stephen S DiMonte, Janessa D M JD Drake

Indexed on: 11 Feb '15Published on: 11 Feb '15Published in: Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology


Previous studies have recommended a minimum of five trials to produce repeatable kinematic and electromyography (EMG) measures during target postures or contraction levels. This study aimed to evaluate the repeatability and reliability of kinematic and EMG measures that are of primary interest in the investigation of trunk movement, and to determine the number of trials required to achieve repeatability and reliability for these measures. Thirty participants performed ten trials of upright standing and maximum trunk ranges-of-motion. Mean (upright standing) and maximum (movement tasks) kinematic and EMG measures were assessed using intraclass correlation coefficients and standard error of measurement, which were used to identify the minimum number of trials for each measure. The repeatability and reliability of the measures were generally high, with 64%, 77%, 85%, and 92% of measures producing repeatable and reliable values with two, three, four, and five trials, respectively. Ten trials were not sufficient for several upright standing angle measures and maximum twist lumbar angles. Further, several abdominal muscles during maximum flexion, as well as the left lower-thoracic erector spinae during maximum twist, required as many as five trials. These measures were typically those with very small amounts of motion, or muscles that did not act in the role of prime mover. These results suggest that as few as two trials may be sufficient for many of the kinematic and EMG measures of primary interest in the investigation of trunk movement, while the collection of four trials should produce repeatable and reliable values for over 80% of measures. These recommendations are intended to provide an acceptable trade-off between repeatable and reliable values and feasibility of the collection protocol.