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A model for transcutaneous electrical stimulation using activation volumes to describe the influence of the electrode placement and size


A. Kuhn

International Workshop on Functional Electrical Stimulation, Vienna, Austria, vol. 9

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) enables functional movements of human limbs by applying electrically generated pulses to pairs of electrodes placed on the skin surface. New TES technology uses multi-channel configurable electrodes that can dynamically distribute the stimulation current across the skin surface. Such systems require a quantitative understanding of the spatial and temporal activations of underlying neural structures. We have developed a versatile TES simulation framework that calculates nerve activation using a transient finite element model combined with a nerve model. Activation volumes (AVs) are used to describe regions where nerves are activated. Post processing using computer graphics methods enables the comparison of AVs produced for different model parameters. In this paper the TES simulation framework was used to investigate the influence of electrode size and position on spatial nerve activation. Isometric force measurements were performed on three human volunteers to validate the findings. Using AVs we determined the relationship between electrode size and activation depth for constant current densities. We found that for smaller electrodes the current density has to be increased to keep nerves at a particular depth stimulated. This is particularly important for new multi-channel configurable electrodes which use small sized electrodes (~ 1cm2). Further, the simulations and experiments confirmed that the placement of the anode has a minor influence on nerve activation (less than 2mm spatial change of AVs and less than 15% in experiments) if the anodes and cathodes are more than 0.5 cm apart.


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M. Morari

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