Tracking or predicting physiological fatigue is important for developing more robust training protocols and better energy supplements and/or reducing muscle injuries. Current methodologies are usually impractical and/or invasive and may not be realizable outside of laboratory settings. It was recently demonstrated that smooth orthogonal decomposition (SOD) of phase space warping (PSW) features of motion kinematics can identify fatigue in individual muscle groups. We hypothesize that a nonlinear extension of SOD will identify more optimal fatigue coordinates and provide a lower-dimensional reconstruction of local fatigue dynamics than the linear SOD. Both linear and nonlinear SODs were applied to PSW features estimated from measured kinematics to reconstruct muscle fatigue dynamics in subjects performing a sawing motion. Ten healthy young right-handed subjects pushed a weighted handle back and forth until voluntary exhaustion. Three sets of joint kinematic angles were measured from the right upper extremity in addition to surface electromyography (EMG) recordings. The SOD coordinates of kinematic PSW features were compared against independently measured fatigue markers (i.e., mean and median EMG spectrum frequencies of individual muscle groups). This comparison was based on a least-squares linear fit of a fixed number of the dominant SOD coordinates to the appropriate local fatigue markers. Between subject variability showed that at most four to five nonlinear SOD coordinates were needed to reconstruct fatigue in local muscle groups, while on average 15 coordinates were needed for the linear SOD. Thus, the nonlinear coordinates provided a one-order-of-magnitude improvement over the linear ones.

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