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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation

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Spinal cord -- Wounds and injuries -- Rehabilitation, Electric stimulation, Neuroprostheses -- Design and construction, Electrotherapeutics


Background: Implanted motor system neuroprostheses can be effective at increasing personal mobility of persons paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. However, currently available neural stimulation systems for standing employ patterns of constant activation and are unreactive to changing postural demands. Methods: In this work, we developed a closed-loop controller for detecting forward-directed body disturbances and initiating a stabilizing step in a person with spinal cord injury. Forward-directed pulls at the waist were detected with three body-mounted triaxial accelerometers. A finite state machine was designed and tested to trigger a postural response and apply stimulation to appropriate muscles so as to produce a protective step when the simplified jerk signal exceeded predetermined thresholds. Results: The controller effectively initiated steps for all perturbations with magnitude between 10 and 17.5 s body weight, and initiated a postural response with occasional steps at 5% body weight. For perturbations at 15 and 17.5% body weight, the dynamic responses of the subject exhibited very similar component time periods when compared with able-bodied subjects undergoing similar postural perturbations. Additionally, the reactive step occurred faster for stronger perturbations than for weaker ones (p < .005, unequal varience t-test.) Conclusions: This research marks progress towards a controller which can improve the safety and independence of persons with spinal cord injury using implanted neuroprostheses for standing.


© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.



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