Approaches to functional electrical stimulation induced cycling and application for the child with a spinal cord injury
In the hope of more compact and user-friendly approaches to FES-cycling through the incorporation of modern sensor and computing technology, two new hip-angle-based strategies (both of which utilise a limb-mounted sensor) and a “traditional” crank-angle-based strategy have been developed and incorporated into a PDA-based multi-functional FES system. Through both simulation and tricycle-based experiments, all three approaches have been shown to provide practical stimulation activation timing. The second research focus concerns the development of two FES-cycling systems which are suitable for a spinal cord injured child, and methods to facilitate the intended use of both devices. A standard child’s tricycle has been modified with appropriate instrumentation for FES-cycling and testing involving its target population was carried out at a US-based paediatric research hospital. These experiments culminated in the demonstration of FES-cycling by an untrained seven year old T4/T6 (motor complete) subject, and the evolution of the device into one which should be able to meet the specific needs of spinal cord injured children. A second system with integrated motor has also been developed. As well as offering motor assistance, this device incorporates additional instrumentation to allow investigation into exercise and training capabilities. Experiments have been undertaken to validate this equipment and it is now ready for future pilot work involving paediatric subjects. The two research foci in this thesis represent what are, in our opinion, important routes that FES-cycling should take to progress into the home environment and also allow participation of a population who have potentially the most to gain from using it.