Newcastle University

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Saba Naveed

Early Stage Researcher

Project: ESR7

Sarcopenia is an age-related muscle disease that affects quality, quantity, strength, function, and structure of the human muscles leading to modified movement. While loss of muscle mass is normal during the ageing process, sarcopenia describes severe and accelerated muscle loss, which is clinically significant and can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s quality of life. Changes include loss of motor units and atrophy of remaining muscle fibres with fast (type II) fibres affected more than slow (type I).

Current techniques, such as electromyography (EMG), are employed in ESR7’s research to assess muscle and motor unit activity, providing information about the electrical properties of motor units and potential insights into muscle physiology. Additionally, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facilitates the acquisition of structural data, including muscle cross-sectional area, indicative of muscle force, and intramuscular fat content, reflective of muscle quality and 31-phosphorous spectroscopy for exploring mitochondrial respiratory capacity.

The research comprises two experimental studies. The first study investigated age-related changes in muscle properties between older and younger females. In the second study, the focus was on exploring sex-related differences in muscle properties between older females and older males.

In both studies, EMG sensors recorded three lower leg muscles while treadmill walking: the dorsiflexor tibialis anterior (TA), and plantar flexors soleus (SO) and medial gastrocnemius (MG). SO is characterised by a higher proportion of slow Type I muscle fibres compared to its synergist MG. These muscles may be differentially impacted by ageing resulting in altered activation patterns due to their different fibre composition. By analysing association of various EMG features with MRI metrics, ESR7’s research aims to identify age-related and sex-related factors in shaping muscle structure and function to help improve mobility and promote a better quality of life for elderly people.


Results indicate that although there was a difference in the EMG power spectrum with age, it did not reflect in altered repeatability of EMG profile.

The older participants were healthy and very active which may account for no difference observed.

Muscles however displayed differences in gait cycle EMG repeatability with plantarflexors (MG, SO) displaying greater repeatability than the dorsiflexor (TA).

As motor control of dorsiflexion is achieved mainly by TA whereas 3 muscles mainly control plantarflexion, this may explain the difference in repeatability.

Visit of Saba Naveed, ESR from University of Newcastle to TUZVO, June 2023 to obtain on-site information about forests as restorative environments comprising elements supporting cognitive function and autonomic nervous system functioning in older adults.

Eisa Aghchehli

Early Stage Researcher

Project: ESR9

Research undertaken by ESR9 is centred on exploring the impact of integrating digital networks and advanced on-site feature extraction, utilizing edge machine learning techniques. This approach is specifically targeted at enhancing muscle activity recognition algorithms within health research.

The primary goal is to assess how these sophisticated technologies can contribute to the mental and physical well-being of adults aged 60 and over. Developing a Multi-channel, AI-enabled, and Scalable Electromyography (EMG) Electrode (Digital EMG).

In greater detail, ESR-9’s research delves into how edge AI and feature extraction techniques can augment the efficiency of Body Area Sensor Network (BASN) systems in both clinical and research contexts for muscle activity recognition systems. This is aimed at facilitating improvements in the quality of life for the elderly. The research methodology involves designing innovative hardware setups and conducting research data thorough evaluations and comparisons with existing commercial platforms.

The outcomes of this research will be meticulously documented and shared through scientific journals and conferences, ensuring a wide dissemination of the findings. This approach emphasizes the use of rigorous scientific experiments as the foundation for creating and disseminating results, thereby contributing valuable insights to the field.