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Strategies for Generating Prolonged Functional Standing Using Intramuscular Stimulation or Intraspinal Microstimulation

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3 Author(s)
Bernice Lau ; Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton ; Lisa Guevremont ; Vivian K. Mushahwar

Spinal cord injury (SCI) often results in the loss of the ability to stand. The goal of this study was to implement a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system for restoring prolonged periods of standing after SCI. For this purpose, we tested two control strategies: open-loop and closed-loop control, and two stimulation paradigms: non-interleaved intramuscular stimulation (IM-S) and interleaved intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS). The experiments were conducted in anesthetized cats. Stimulation was applied to the muscles through IM-S electrodes implanted in the main knee and ankle extensor muscles, or to the spinal cord through ultra-fine ISMS wires implanted within the ventral horn of the lumbosacral enlargement. The cats were partially supported over parallel force plates and accelerometers were secured to the hindlimbs above and below the ankle joint. Ground reaction forces and knee and ankle joint angles were measured by the force plates and accelerometers, respectively. The closed-loop controller used these feedback signals to modulate the amplitude of stimulation applied to the extensor muscles. The open-loop controller applied constant levels of stimulation which were determined before the onset of each trial. The duration of standing achieved using closed-loop control of IM-S was significantly longer than that achieved with open-loop control (~2 times longer). The increase in the duration of standing corresponded with a decrease in the rate of force decay and a lower average injected current during closed-loop control. Standing was further improved with the use of ISMS. Closed-loop control of interleaved ISMS resulted in a period of standing > 3 times longer than the best trial generated using non-interleaved IM-S. There was also a significant improvement in the balance of force between the two hindlimbs. The results suggest that a system which uses closed-loop control in conjunction with interleaved ISMS could achieve prolonged FES standing in peop- - le with SCI.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering  (Volume:15 ,  Issue: 2 )