Volume 51 Number 5, 2014
Pages 747 — 760
Abstract — Spinal cord injury (SCI) can compromise the ability to maintain an erect seated posture. This study examined the feasibility of a sensor-based threshold controller to automatically modulate stimulation to paralyzed hip and trunk extensor muscles to restore upright sitting from forward leaning postures. Forward trunk tilt was estimated from the anterior-posterior component of gravitational acceleration sensed by a sternum-mounted wireless accelerometer. Stimulation increased if trunk tilt exceeded a specified flexion threshold and ceased once upright sitting was resumed. The controller was verified experimentally in five volunteers with SCI and successfully returned all subjects to upright postures from forward leaning positions. Upper-limb effort exerted while returning to erect posture was significantly reduced (to 7.4% +/– 3.7% of body mass) pooled across all volunteers while using the controller compared with using continuous and no stimulation (p < 0.03). Controller response times were consistent among subjects when applied while sitting with (0.30 +/– 0.05 s) or without (0.34 +/– 0.11 s) a backrest. The controller enabled volunteers to lean farther forward (59.7° +/– 16.4°) in wheelchairs without upper-limb effort than with no stimulation. Clinical utility of the system for facilitating reach or preventing falls remains to be determined in future studies.
Key words: closed-loop controller, feedback control, functional electrical stimulation, functional neuromuscular stimulation, neuroprosthesis, SCI, seated posture, spinal cord injury, trunk stability, wireless accelerometer.
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Last Reviewed or Updated Wednesday, August 27, 2014 2:46 PM