Alistair Du Rose
Recent research undertaken at IMRCI has focussed on the kinematics of intervertebral motion in both the cervical and lumbar spines. My PhD, funded by the European Chiropractic Union Research Fund (ECURF) will build on this work, and investigate what is ‘normal’ in terms of the biomechanics of the lumbar spine. This is an important question, as until a better understanding of normal is established, it remains difficult to determine what is abnormal.
Objective Spinal Motion Imaging Assessment OSMIA is a development of the use of quantitative fluoroscopy which standardises the rate and range of trunk motion in order to analyse vertebral movement in both recumbent and weight bearing positions. OSMIA will however only provide some of the pieces to this puzzle. The movement and control of the lumbar spine results from complex interactions between passive (ligaments, joints, discs), active (muscles) and neural components. The advanced digital fluoroscopy methodology, whilst providing valuable insight into the mechanics of the spine’s holding elements, does not reveal anything about the active elements i.e. the surrounding musculature. Therefore, my research will go to the next stage, and for the first time utilise the combination of digital fluoroscopy with surface electromyography (sEMG) in order to explore normal relationships between the two.
The study will see the recruitment of healthy (pain free) volunteers, who will undergo simultaneous imaging and sEMG analysis whilst bending in the coronal plane. It is hoped that variables such as ‘motion share’ (the proportion of lumbar motion shared by the various levels) and ‘Phase lag’ (the tendency for different vertebral levels to commence or end at different points in the motion sequence) will show relationships with muscle activation onset/offset patterns. This is an important area of research, as furthering our understanding of what is ‘normal’ will act as benchmark for future research into low back pain diagnosis, treatment, outcomes and classification. The PhD began in October 2012 and is scheduled for completion in early 2016. IMRCI have been fortunate to receive a grant for modern wireless sEMG equipment from the AECC Treatment a Month Club (TAM).