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BIONic WalkAide for correcting foot drop

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8 Author(s)
D. J. Weber ; Centre for Neurosci., Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta., Canada ; R. B. Stein ; K. M. Chan ; G. Loeb
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The goal of this study was to test the feasibility and efficacy of using microstimulators (BIONs) to correct foot drop, the first human application of BIONs in functional electrical stimulation (FES). A prototype BIONic foot drop stimulator was developed by modifying a WalkAide2 stimulator to control BION stimulation of the ankle dorsiflexor muscles. BION stimulation was compared with surface stimulation of the common peroneal nerve provided by a normal WalkAide2 foot drop stimulator. Compared to surface stimulation, we found that BION stimulation of the deep peroneal nerve produces a more balanced ankle flexion movement without everting the foot. A three-dimensional motion analysis was performed to measure the ankle and foot kinematics with and without stimulation. Without stimulation, the toe on the affected leg drags across the ground. The BIONic WalkAide elevates the foot such that the toe clears the ground by 3 cm, which is equivalent to the toe clearance in the unaffected leg. The physiological cost index (PCI) was used to measure effort during walking. The PCI is high without stimulation (2.29±0.37;mean±S.D.) and greatly reduced with surface (1.29±0.10) and BION stimulation (1.46±0.24). Also, walking speed is increased from 9.4±0.4 m/min without stimulation to 19.6±2.0 m/min with surface and 17.8±0.7 m/min with BION stimulation. We conclude that functional electrical stimulation with BIONs is a practical alternative to surface stimulation and provides more selective control of muscle activation.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 2 )