Volume 53 Number 2, 2016
Pages 263 — 278
Abstract — Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a promising assistive technology for stroke rehabilitation. Here we present the design and development of a multimuscle stimulation system as an emerging therapy for people with paretic stroke. A network-based multichannel NMES system was integrated based on dual bus architecture of communication and an H-bridge current regulator with a power booster. The structure of the system was a body area network embedded with multiple stimulators and a communication protocol of controlled area network to transmit muscle stimulation parameter information to individual stimulators. A graphical user interface was designed to allow clinicians to specify temporal patterns and muscle stimulation parameters. We completed and tested a prototype of the hardware and communication software modules of the multichannel NMES system. The prototype system was first verified in nondisabled subjects for safety, and then tested in subjects with stroke for feasibility with assisting multijoint movements. Results showed that synergistic stimulation of multiple muscles in subjects with stroke improved performance of multijoint movements with more natural velocity profiles at elbow and shoulder and reduced acromion excursion due to compensatory trunk rotation. The network-based NMES system may provide an innovative solution that allows more physiological activation of multiple muscles in multijoint task training for patients with stroke.
Key words:assistive technology, body area network, distributed stimulator system, motor function recovery, multijoint movement, multimuscle activation, muscle synergy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, proprioceptive afferents, stroke rehabilitation.
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Last Reviewed or Updated Tuesday, April 12, 2016 11:24 AM