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The aim of this study was to implement a new approach to feedback control of unsupported standing and to evaluate it in tests with an intact and a paraplegic subject. In our setup, all joints above the ankles are braced and stabilizing torque at the ankle is generated by electrical stimulation of the plantarflexor muscles. A previous study showed that short periods of unsupported standing with a paraplegic subject could be achieved. In order to improve consistency and reliability and to prolong the duration of standing, we have implemented several modifications to the control strategy. These include a simplified control structure and a different controller design method. While the reliability of standing is mainly limited by the muscle characteristics such as reduced strength and progressive fatigue, the results presented here show that the new strategy allows much longer periods (up to several minutes) of unsupported standing in paraplegia.
Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:12 , Issue: 1 )
Date of Publication: March 2004