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Experiments to Combine FES and Lokomat to Restore Locomotion in Stroke Survivors


R. Nguyen, F. Jonasch, Katrin Campen, Andreas Luft, S. Micera, M. Morari

NCCR Neural Plasticity and Repair Symposium, Berlingen, Switzerland

Approximately 15 million people worldwide suffer from stroke each year. 30% of individuals are unable to walk unassisted after 6 months. Two technologies that are used to assist in the rehabilitation process is robotic gait training and functional electrical stimulation (FES). The Lokomat (Hocoma AG) is an exoskeletal robotic device providing active guidance during weight supported treadmill training. It removes the physical strain on therapists and consistency in a controlled environment. A limitation is that the limbs are passively moved, that is, in the absence of muscle activation. FES has been used effectively in the clinic for restoration of gait. Short bursts of electric current are applied between electrodes placed near motor neurons to induce muscular contraction. Limitations have been the requirement of extensive therapist support for patient interaction and the lack of control strategies that result in acceptable gait patterns. Combining both techniques could lead to better rehabilitation outcomes because each has advantages that can compensate the disadvantages of the other. The goal of this project is to develop a control strategy for FES within the Lokomat that promotes proper muscle activation. Presented here is control of FES of the ankle, which is held passively within the Lokomat by a foot lifter.


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