Epidermal electronics for electromyography: An application to swallowing therapy

Gabriela Constantinescu, Jae Woong Jeong, Xinda Li, Dylan K. Scott, Kyung In Jang, Hyun Joong Chung, John A. Rogers, Jana Rieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Head and neck cancer treatment alters the anatomy and physiology of patients. Resulting swallowing difficulties can lead to serious health concerns. Surface electromyography (sEMG) is used as an adjuvant to swallowing therapy exercises. sEMG signal collected from the area under the chin provides visual biofeedback from muscle contractions and is used to help patients perform exercises correctly. However, conventional sEMG adhesive pads are relatively thick and difficult to effectively adhere to a patient's altered chin anatomy, potentially leading to poor signal acquisition in this population. Here, the emerging technology of epidermal electronics is introduced, where ultra-thin geometry allows for close contouring of the chin. The two objectives of this study were to (1) assess the potential of epidermal electronics technology for use with swallowing therapy and (2) assess the significance of the reference electrode placement. This study showed comparative signals between the new epidermal sEMG patch and the conventional adhesive patches used by clinicians. Furthermore, an integrated reference yielded optimal signal for clinical use; this configuration was more robust to head movements than when an external reference was used. Improvements for future iterations of epidermal sEMG patches specific to day-to-day clinical use are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-812
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2016


  • Epidermal electronics
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Surface electromyography
  • Swallowing therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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