EMG Activity With Use of a Hands-Free Single Crutch vs a Knee Scooter
Cuyler Dewar, MS, Terry L. Grindstaff, PhD, PT, Brooke Farmer, MS, ATC, Morgan Sainsbury, MS, Sam Gay, BS, Weston Kroes, BS and Kevin D. Martin, DO, FAAOS, FAANA
Summary: The hands-free crutch leads to increased muscle activity and recruitment consistent with normal walking when compared with a knee scooter. The hands-free crutch being the mobility device that is closest to normal walking in terms of muscle activity has various clinical benefits in the recovery of non-weight bearing lower limb injuries such as decreasing muscle atrophy, improving blood flow, reducing the risk of blood clots and enhancing healing. Moreover, the increased muscle activity using the hands-free crutch may reduce changes in brain plasticity.
“The rectus femoris, lateral gastrocnemius and gluteus maximus showed increased peak electromyographic (EMG) activity percentage, and the lateral gastrocnemius showed increased mean muscle activity while using the hands-free single crutch (HFSC) compared with the knee scooter…The heightened intensity and recruitment of these muscles while using the HFSC could potentially translate to decreased levels of muscle atrophy and increased blood leading to heightened venous return during nonweight-bearing recovery. Increased muscle activation has been shown to lead to increased muscle retention and mass…By maintaining in-phase cyclic muscle activation, we have established these neuro-motor pathways remain active regardless of immobilization and weightbearing status while using an HFSC.”