Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Engineering (M.S.E.)

Degree Program

School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. John Farris

Second Advisor

Dr. Yunju Lee

Third Advisor

Dr. Samhita Rhodes

Academic Year



The Labor Assist Device (LAD) was designed to reduce the muscle fatigue experienced by women during childbirth to decrease the number of unnecessary cesarean deliveries and injuries to nurses. The purpose of this thesis is to develop a protocol for a future study to assess the effectiveness of the LAD at reducing muscle fatigue. While multiple parameters were investigated in this pilot study, the major parameter needed to develop the future protocol is the muscle fatigue rate in women contracting their muscles to simulate pushing during labor. The muscle fatigue rates are estimated in this study using a surface electromyography analysis (sEMG) in women of childbearing age while simulating pushing during labor. Electrodes were placed bilaterally on the erector spinae and the rectus abdominis. Multiple different experimental procedures were executed to determine the impact of each parameter on generating muscle fatigue. The three main experimental parameters investigated were pushing interval duration, resting interval duration, and body positioning to determine how they altered the observed muscle fatigue rates. The muscle fatigue rate obtained from each procedure were quantified using the median frequency of the power spectrum with respect to time to create a muscle fatigue index. The combination of parameters that resulted in the greatest observed muscle fatigue rates were selected to establish the baseline of muscle fatigue to be used in a future study. The average muscle fatigue rate over seven participants was -0.0003 Hz/s. This average was calculated from data collected on the Left Rectus Abdominis using the experimental parameters of a pushing interval of 60 seconds, a resting interval of 180 seconds, and the semi-recumbent body position. However, further investigation of the outlined parameters is recommended before finalizing the experimental parameters for the future LAD evaluation.