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Minimum Electromyographic Burst Duration in Healthy Controls: Implications for Electrodiagnosis in Movement Disorders

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alexis Collins, Dr Steven Brown, Professor Mark BakerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 The Authors. Movement Disorders Clinical Practice published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder SocietyBackground: Electromyogram (EMG) burst duration can provide additional diagnostic information when investigating hyperkinetic movement disorders, particularly when a functional movement disorder is suspected. It is generally accepted that EMG bursts <50 milliseconds are pathological. Objective: To reassess minimum physiological EMG burst duration. Methods: Surface EMG was recorded from face, trunk, and limb muscles in controls (n = 60; ages 19–85). Participants were instructed to generate the briefest possible ballistic movements involving each muscle (40 repetitions) or, in muscles spanning joints, to generate rapid rhythmic alternating movements (20–30 seconds), or both. Results: We found no effect of age on EMG burst duration. However, EMG burst duration varied significantly between body regions. Rhythmic EMG bursts were shorter than ballistic bursts but only significantly so for lower limbs (P < 0.001). EMG bursts of duration <50 milliseconds were frequently observed, particularly in appendicular muscles. Conclusion: We present normal reference data for minimum EMG burst duration, which may assist clinical interpretation when investigating hyperkinetic movement disorders.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Collins AF, Brown STR, Baker MR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Movement Disorders Clinical Practice

Year: 2020

Volume: 7

Issue: 7

Pages: 827-833

Print publication date: 01/10/2020

Online publication date: 06/08/2020

Acceptance date: 24/07/2020

Date deposited: 25/11/2020

ISSN (print): 0885-3185

ISSN (electronic): 2330-1619

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1002/mdc3.13044


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