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Electrical Stimulation of the finger flexors using ‘Virtual Electrodes’


M. Lawrence, T. Kirstein, T. Keller

International Workshop on Functional Electrical Stimulation, Vienna, Austria, no. 8, pp. 191-194

Transcutaneous Functional Electrical Stimulation normally uses self-adhesive electrodes to deliver the required stimulation pulses to the correct muscle groups in order to achieve a functional movement. Identifying the optimal electrode placement on individual patients is a time consuming process, and prone to misplacement when undertaken by users. Virtual Electrodes (VE’s), the location of which can be electronically controlled in space and time, can overcome such problems and allow the potential for new applications for advanced functional movement. VE’s can be formed from a two dimensional array of small electrode elements, each of which can be switched between ‘stimulation’ and ‘off’ (high impedance) states. A novel 16 element Fabric Transcutaneous Electrode Array (FTEA) was manufactured from silver coated fibres, embroidered into square elements (10mm×10mm) arranged in a 4×4 pattern, with 2mm inter-element spacing. The finger flexors (little, ring and index) of volunteers were stimulated using a Compex Motion Stimulator connected to a device that can multiplex stimulation currents between any of 16 channels. A self-adhesive anode electrode (Compex, 5cm×5cm) was placed at the inner wrist, and the FTEA above the finger flexor muscles (cathode). Force measurements from the middle tarsal of each finger were recorded for 1) maximum voluntary contractions (MVCs), 2) normal electrode stimulation and 3) a series of different VE’s moved around the FTEA. The obtained results showed that FTEA’s were well tolerated by the volunteers; and produced controllable forces comparable to normal electrical stimulation.

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% Autogenerated BibTeX entry
@InProceedings { LawKir:2004:IFA_1954,
    author={M. Lawrence and T. Kirstein and T. Keller},
    title={{Electrical Stimulation of the finger flexors using ‘Virtual
    booktitle={International Workshop on Functional Electrical Stimulation},
    address={Vienna, Austria},
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