closed loop electrical muscle stimulation in spinal cord injured rehabilitation
The effect of motor training using closed loop controlled Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) on motor performance was studied in 5 spinal cord injured (SCI) volunteers. The subjects trained 2 to 3 times a week during 2 months on a newly developed rehabilitation robot (MotionMaker™). The FES induced muscle force could be adequately adjusted throughout the programmed exercises by the way of a closed loop control of the stimulation currents. The software of the MotionMaker™ allowed spasms to be detected accurately and managed in a way to prevent any harm to the SCI persons. Subjects with incomplete SCI reported an increased proprioceptive awareness for motion and were able to achieve a better voluntary activation of their leg muscles during controlled FES. At the end of the training, the voluntary force of the 4 incomplete SCI patients was found increased by 388% on their most affected leg and by 193% on the other leg. Active mobilisation with controlled FES seems to be effective in improving motor function in SCI persons by increasing the sensory input to neuronal circuits involved in motor control as well as by increasing muscle strength.