Machine-learning techniques are suitably employed for gait-event prediction from only surface electromyographic (sEMG) signals in control subjects during walking. Nevertheless, a reference approach is not available in cerebral-palsy hemiplegic children, likely due to the large variability of foot-floor contacts. This study is designed to investigate a machine-learning-based approach, specifically developed to binary classify gait events and to predict heel-strike (HS) and toe-off (TO) timing from sEMG signals in hemiplegic-child walking. To this objective, sEMG signals are acquired from five hemiplegic-leg muscles in nearly 2500 strides from 20 hemiplegic children, acknowledged as Winters' group 1 and 2. sEMG signals, segmented in overlapping windows of 600 samples (pace = 5 samples), are used to train a multi-layer perceptron model. Intra-subject and inter-subject experimental settings are tested. The best-performing intra-subject approach is able to provide in the hemiplegic population a mean classification accuracy (±SD) of 0.97±0.01 and a suitable prediction of HS and TO events, in terms of average mean absolute error (MAE, 14.8±3.2 ms for HS and 17.6±4.2 ms for TO) and F1-score (0.95±0.03 for HS and 0.92±0.07 for TO). These results outperform previous sEMG-based attempts in cerebral-palsy populations and are comparable with outcomes achieved by reference approaches in control populations. In conclusion, the findings of the study prove the feasibility of neural networks in predicting the two main gait events using surface EMG signals, also in condition of high variability of the signal to predict as in hemiplegic cerebral palsy.
Machine-Learning-Based Prediction of Gait Events from EMG in Cerebral Palsy Children / Morbidoni, C.; Cucchiarelli, A.; Agostini, V.; Knaflitz, M.; Fioretti, S.; Di Nardo, F.. - In: IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON NEURAL SYSTEMS AND REHABILITATION ENGINEERING. - ISSN 1534-4320. - 29:(2021), pp. 819-830. [10.1109/TNSRE.2021.3076366]