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Effect on Sensory Nerves by Vertebral Column Movement


A neurophysiologist has performed studies designed to understand how mechanical movement of the vertebral column affects sensory nerves that innervate the paraspinal tissues. In particular, the researcher put a biomechanical load on an individual lumbar vertebra and, in the example below, recorded nerve activity from a muscle spindle located in the multifidus muscle innervated by that spinal segment. The load was placed on the vertebra in the horizontal plane and translated in 3 different directions relative to the long axis of the spine.

Origin Layout Page Exported

Getting the Data into Origin

The data was first reduced in an Excel worksheet and set up appropriately for graphing. The first row of the Excel spreadsheet contained what became the column titles in Origin and the second row contained what became the column label. The data represented two types of outcome variables:

  • Biomechanical Data - changes in force that were continuous in time
  • Neurophysiological Data - increases in afferent (nerve impulse) activity measured in Hz and determined for successive 500ms bins of time

Thus the final plots included two types of Y data (a Line graph showing the change in force over time and a Bar/Column graph showing each bar representing 500ms of nerve activity).

Manipulating the Data

A example of moving a row of data in Origin's worksheet column labels

To create these plots the data was copied and pasted into an Origin worksheet. Each column was then appropriately named. In order to do this (because there were so many columns), two script buttons were created. The first button moved the first row of the worksheet data into the respective column's title and the second row into the respective column's label. These first two rows were then automatically deleted with the second button.

Making Presentation Quality Graphs

The next step involved creating the graph template to be used in creating 6 graph windows. Two layers were made in a graph window: one included the Line plot mentioned above and the other the Bar/Column graph. The layers were then positioned on top of each other. Finally, all labels, fonts, ticks, scales, etc were adjusted to create the desired effect. The graph was then saved as a graph template and used to create the 5 remaining graphs with additional data sets obtained during the study.

The six graphs were placed in Origin's Layout window and positioned appropriately. All 6 graphs were selected and sized identically using the Uniform Height and Uniform Width toolbar buttons on the Object Edit toolbar. The 3 graphs making up each of the 2 columns were aligned vertically using Origin's set of vertical alignment buttons on the Object Edit toolbar. The 2 graphs making up each of the 3 rows were then aligned horizontally using the set of horizontal alignment buttons on the Object Edit toolbar.

  An Origin Layout Page

Origin's Object Edit and Tools Toolbars

The three graphics in the center of the Layout page were drawn using the drawing tools on the Tools toolbar. When possible, objects were copied and pasted so that they were similar in size. All elements for each graphic were grouped with the Group button on the Object Edit toolbar. The three graphics were then aligned using the alignment tools on the Object Edit toolbar. Each cartoon represented a different direction of movement.

Joel G. Pickar is a Neurophysiologist at the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research in Davenport, Iowa.


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