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Muscle selection and walking performance of multichannel FES systems for ambulation in paraplegia

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3 Author(s)
Kobetic, R. ; Motion Study Lab., Veterans Affairs Med. Center, Cleveland, OH, USA ; Triolo, R.J. ; Marsolais, E.B.

A minimal set of muscles (8 to 16) were identified as candidates for implantation in a clinical system to provide walking function to individuals with complete paraplegia using functional electrical stimulation (FES). Three subjects with complete motor and sensory paraplegia had percutaneous intramuscular electrodes implanted in all major muscles controlling the trunk, hips, knees, and ankles. Stimulation patterns for walking with FES were generated for different sets of 8 and 16 muscles. The quality and repeatability of the resulting gait produced by walking patterns consisting of various combinations of muscles were determined. Most 8-channel stimulation patterns resulted in scissoring or insufficient hip flexion, preventing forward progression. One 8-channel system allowed a maximum speed of 0.1 m/s with a cadence of 22 steps/min and a stride length less than 0.3 m. Improved walking performance was observed with 16 channels of stimulation. This ranged from slow step to gait at 0.1 m/s to smooth reciprocal gait at 0.5 m/s. In all 3 subjects, the favored combination of 16 channels included erector spinae for trunk extension; gluteus maximus, posterior portion of adductor magnus and hamstrings for hip extension; tensor fasciae latae and either sartorius or iliopsoas for hip flexion; vastus lateralis/intermedius for knee extension; and tibialis anterior/peroneous longus for ankle dorsiflexion. In 1 subject the 16-channel FES system provided repeatable day-to-day gait averaging 0.4 m/s, 58 steps/min and a stride length at 0.8 m. A maximum repeatable walking distance with 16 channels was 34 m. Multiple 34-m trials were possible with minimal rests between walks. Fatigue of both the hip extensors and upper body was a limiting factor. The selection of target muscles for implantation is critical to the performance of FES systems. This study provides guidelines to muscle selection for walking with FES based on objective measures of gait performance. The findings indicate that a 16-channel FES system for total implantation is feasible for repeatable short distance, independent, walker-support walking in paraplegia

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Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 1 )