Coordinating Upper and Lower Body During FES-Assisted Transfers in Persons With Spinal Cord Injury in Order to Reduce Arm Support

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Abstract

Objective:

The goal of this study is to minimize arm forces applied during sit-to-stand (STS) transfers in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) by using functional electrical stimulation (FES) applied to lower limbs muscles.

Materials and Methods:

A new FES system has been used to automatically trigger muscle stimulation of the lower limbs, at the desired moment in regards to trunk motion. The objective was to decrease arm participation during STS motion of a person with complete paraplegia and low-level tetraplegia. Six participants with chronic SCI participated in the study. Participants with SCI were recruited to complete STS movement using a new system for FES-assisted STS transfer. All participants attended one muscle mapping session to test their muscles condition, two training sessions to become familiarized with the experimental setup, and two measurement sessions using the proposed system for FES-assisted STS movement. The applied arm forces during STS movement were recorded and analyzed for different stimulation onset values with respect to the maximal trunk acceleration signal using one-way ANOVA statistical test. Post-hoc analysis was performed using Tukey's method.

Results:

The results of this study showed that the moment of the stimulation onset has an influence on the arm forces applied during the STS motion. The lowest values of arm forces were obtained for STS movements where the electrical stimulation was triggered before and around the time corresponding to the maximal value of the trunk acceleration signal.

Conclusion:

Lowest arm forces values were obtained for STS motions that were similar to those of healthy persons in terms of trunk movements and beginning of lower limb movements in regards to maximal trunk acceleration signal. The FES system was able to mimic the rising motion of a healthy individual by triggering the FES at the appropriate moment. This method could prove useful for pivot transfer, therapeutic or functional verticalization.

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