Posts Tagged FES

[ARTICLE] Functional electrical stimulation therapy for restoration of motor function after spinal cord injury and stroke: a review – Full Text

Abstract

Functional electrical stimulation is a technique to produce functional movements after paralysis. Electrical discharges are applied to a person’s muscles making them contract in a sequence that allows performing tasks such as grasping a key, holding a toothbrush, standing, and walking. The technology was developed in the sixties, during which initial clinical use started, emphasizing its potential as an assistive device. Since then, functional electrical stimulation has evolved into an important therapeutic intervention that clinicians can use to help individuals who have had a stroke or a spinal cord injury regain their ability to stand, walk, reach, and grasp. With an expected growth in the aging population, it is likely that this technology will undergo important changes to increase its efficacy as well as its widespread adoption. We present here a series of functional electrical stimulation systems to illustrate the fundamentals of the technology and its applications. Most of the concepts continue to be in use today by modern day devices. A brief description of the potential future of the technology is presented, including its integration with brain–computer interfaces and wearable (garment) technology.

Background

Losing the ability to move voluntarily can have devastating consequences for the independence and quality of life of a person. Stroke and spinal cord injury (SCI) are two important causes of paralysis which affect thousands of individuals around the world. Extraordinary efforts have been made in an attempt to mitigate the effects of paralysis. In recent years, rehabilitation of voluntary movement has been enriched by the constant integration of new neurophysiological knowledge about the mechanisms behind motor function recovery. One central concept that has improved neurorehabilitation significantly is neuroplasticity, the ability of the central nervous system to reorganize itself during the acquisition, retention, and consolidation of motor skills [1]. In this document, we present one of the interventions that has flourished as a consequence of our increased understanding of the plasticity of the nervous system: functional electrical stimulation therapy or FEST. The document, which is not a systematic review, is intended to describe early work that played an important historical role in the development of this field, while providing a general understanding of the technology and applications that continue to be used today. Readers interested in systematic reviews of functional electrical simulation (FES) are directed to other sources (e.g., [2,3,4]).[…]

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Textile-based neuroprostheses. a Finger extension produced using a shirt designed for implementing a neuroprosthesis for reaching and grasping. The garment includes rectangular areas (dark grey patches) made of conductive yarn that function as electrodes. b Forward reaching. Details can be found in [65]

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[ARTICLE] Automated functional electrical stimulation training system for upper-limb function recovery in poststroke patients – Full Text

Highlights

• We developed an accelerometry system to detect the motion intention of poststroke patients for triggering FES.

• A visual game module was combined with this automated FES training system.

• This system can reduce variability in compound movements produced by poststroke patients and FES.

• An optimal threshold of triggering can defined for each patient for specific tasks.

Abstract

Background

This paper describes the design and test of an automated functional electrical stimulation (FES) system for poststroke rehabilitation training. The aim of automated FES is to synchronize electrically induced movements to assist residual movements of patients.

Methods

In the design of the FES system, an accelerometry module detected movement initiation and movement performed by post-stroke patients. The desired movement was displayed in visual game module. Synergy-based FES patterns were formulated using a normal pattern of muscle synergies from a healthy subject. Experiment 1 evaluated how different levels of trigger threshold or timing affected the variability of compound movements for forward reaching (FR) and lateral reaching (LR). Experiment 2 explored the effect of FES duration on compound movements.

Results

Synchronizing FES-assisted movements with residual voluntary movements produced more consistent compound movements. Matching the duration of synergy-based FES to that of patients could assist slower movements of patients with reduced RMS errors.

Conclusions

Evidence indicated that synchronization and matching duration with residual voluntary movements of patients could improve the consistency of FES assisted movements. Automated FES training can reduce the burden of therapists to monitor the training process, which may encourage patients to complete the training.

1. Introduction

Hemiplegia is a common sequela experienced by stroke survivors; it leads to dysfunction in the upper and lower limbs. Various rehabilitation strategies have been adopted to help patients recover limb motor functions [1,2]. The methods of rehabilitation training currently adopted in clinic for poststroke patients are generally high-intensity, repetitive task-oriented paradigms that are practiced daily with outcome feedback [1]. Information on movement kinematics and muscle activation is often used to adjust the training strategy and to ensure that recovery progresses in the desired direction [3,4]. An inappropriate regimen in rehabilitation training may result in abnormal activation of muscles [4] and may lead to reduced effectiveness in motor functional recovery or even increased risk of muscle contracture and spasticity [5,6].

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) may potentially increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation training. It uses electrical stimulation to assist patients in producing physical movements [7] and to facilitate the training of patients’ voluntary muscle contraction [8]. Several studies have reported that FES improves the plasticity of the cerebral cortex and can be easily performed by therapists because it does not require extensive manual operations [9][10][11][12]. Evidence suggests that FES is a useful modality for rehabilitation training with explainable neural mechanisms.

Progress has been made in FES applications to aid the recovery of motor functions in patients poststroke [13], and novel technologies have been integrated into FES paradigms, including gaming [14] and intelligence applications [15][16][17]. However, even though many control strategies have been developed to generate electrical stimulation patterns, these control strategies have not been widely translated into routine clinical uses [18][19][20][21][22] due to the controller is too complex, or needs to be adjusted according to the patient’s condition. Notably, a recent development in neuromotor control theory focusing on the modular organization of multiple muscle activations has led to the formulation of synergy-based FES strategies [23][24][25]. This approach provides a feasible solution for multi-channel FES control using residual muscle activities from the patient [23,[25][26][27][28]]; and it leverages the idea that normal movement kinematics can be generated out of muscle synergies [23].

We have evaluated the synergy-based FES training paradigm in a short-term clinical intervention study. A five day of intervention using synergy-based FES was carried out in poststroke patients. The outcome of the short-term intervention was measured by changes in Fugl-Meyer scores and movement kinematics. Results of evaluations prior to and post intervention showed improvements in both Fugl-Meyer scores and movement kinematics [25]. In a subsequent analysis, synergy-based FES training demonstrated evidence in reorganizing neural circuits in the brain, which led to repairing of impaired muscle activation pattern towards the normal pattern [29].

In this study, we present a design and verification of an autotriggered FES system with a synergy-based stimulation strategy and used RMS errors to analyze the movement process of the patients for each trial by using acceleration. This automated FES training system is designed to continuously integrate with FES clinical protocol therapeutic intervention in stroke rehabilitation [30].

The automated FES training system with a gaming interface and accelerometer triggered generation of multiple channels of electrical stimulations to a group of targeted muscles. In this automated FES training system, we anticipated improved consistency of patient movements during rehabilitative training. If successful, the study will provide a training protocol that induces smaller RMS errors across movement trials.

2. Methods and materials

2.1. Design of the automated FES system

Fig. 1 presents a schematic of the components and experimental environment of the automated trigger FES system. The system was composed of a gaming device, an elbow cast including a radiofrequency identification (RFID) reader and an accelerometer, a multichannel FES system, and a computer. The software for the development of the training game (named Picking Apples) was created using Unity (version 2018.1.3f1, Unity Technologies Inc., CA, USA). For ease of operation, the RFID device and the Li-ion battery were mounted in the elbow cast. The RFID information and accelerometer data were transmitted wirelessly by Bluetooth (Fig. 1A).

Fig 1
Fig. 1. Illustration of the FES system. (A) The automated trigger FES system operation. (B) The experimental setup with the automated trigger FES system. The experiment was performed using the affected upper limb of the subject, which was fixed in a golden yellow plastic elbow cast. Stimulation electrodes were placed on the seven target muscles. A pair of electrodes (4 cm × 4  cm) was placed on each muscle: the red electrode represented the positive pole and the black the negative. The initial and target points are circles with a diameter of 2.5 cm.

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[ARTICLE] Functional Electrical Stimulation Controlled by Motor Imagery Brain-Computer Interface for Rehabilitation – Full Text HTML

Abstract

Sensorimotor rhythm (SMR)-based brain–computer interface (BCI) controlled Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) has gained importance in recent years for the rehabilitation of motor deficits. However, there still remain many research questions to be addressed, such as unstructured Motor Imagery (MI) training procedures; a lack of methods to classify different MI tasks in a single hand, such as grasping and opening; and difficulty in decoding voluntary MI-evoked SMRs compared to FES-driven passive-movement-evoked SMRs. To address these issues, a study that is composed of two phases was conducted to develop and validate an SMR-based BCI-FES system with 2-class MI tasks in a single hand (Phase 1), and investigate the feasibility of the system with stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients (Phase 2). The results of Phase 1 showed that the accuracy of classifying 2-class MIs (approximately 71.25%) was significantly higher than the true chance level, while that of distinguishing voluntary and passive SMRs was not. In Phase 2, where the patients performed goal-oriented tasks in a semi-asynchronous mode, the effects of the FES existence type and adaptive learning on task performance were evaluated. The results showed that adaptive learning significantly increased the accuracy, and the accuracy after applying adaptive learning under the No-FES condition (61.9%) was significantly higher than the true chance level. The outcomes of the present research would provide insight into SMR-based BCI-controlled FES systems that can connect those with motor disabilities (e.g., stroke and TBI patients) to other people by greatly improving their quality of life. Recommendations for future work with a larger sample size and kinesthetic MI were also presented.

1. Introduction

Healthy individuals whose brains and neuromuscular systems enable normal motor functions can naturally perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Nonetheless, for some people who have disabilities in these functions due to injury or disease, simple tasks become very difficult or impossible to do. To assist this population, researchers in many fields, from physical therapy to engineering, have developed various rehabilitation technologies that help them perform ADLs [1,2]. One such technology, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), delivers electrical impulses to either paralyzed or impaired limbs to generate artificial muscle contraction [3,4]. In this way, FES helps disabled people perform ADLs such as walking, reaching, and grasping [5,6]. Some FES devices are controlled by brain–computer interfaces (BCIs), sometimes called brain–machine interfaces.
In general, BCIs can help people communicate and control devices and applications without using peripheral nerves and muscle pathways [7]. BCIs are also a potential method to promote the independence of physically disabled people by means of the BCI’s ability to bypass non-functional neural pathways [8]. A sensorimotor rhythm (SMR)-based BCI-controlled FES system is a novel technology that combines the advantages of FES and BCI systems, and allows severely disabled patients to restore motor functions through the FES system by translating voluntary Motor Imagery (MI) to physical action [9]. There are many potential benefits of combining SMR-based BCIs and FES systems, such as the promotion of neuroplasticity [10], the restoration of motor functions by using voluntary motor intentions [9,11], and providing proprioceptive sensory feedback as a result of their intentions [12].
Although SMR-based BCI-controlled FES methods seem promising, current studies still have central issues: (1) ambiguous instruction of MI tasks during training under SMR-based BCI systems, and (2) difficulties in classifying voluntary MI-evoked SMRs and FES-driven passive-movement-evoked SMRs when FES is activated. Moreover, (3) only a few studies have examined the feasibility of classifying two different MI tasks of a single hand, such as grasping and opening, and (4) few studies have examined human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) perspectives such as subjective mental workload and user satisfaction in the use of SMR-based BCI-controlled FES systems. This research that is composed of two phases was conducted to address these issues by developing a new SMR-based BCI system with visual guidance during training to classify a 2-class MI task in a single hand, as well as voluntary and passive SMRs (Phase 1), and evaluating the feasibility of the proposed BCI-controlled FES system by performing sequential goal-oriented tasks with stroke and TBI patients (Phase 2).
The remainder of this article consists of five more sections (this introduction being Section 1): Section 2 describes a survey of current SMR-based BCI studies for FES systems to identify the limitations of current research and clarifies the current state of BCI-controlled FES technologies. Section 3 presents Phase 1, where an SMR-based BCI system to control FES was developed and validated to address the issues on current research studies. Section 4 describes Phase 2, which assessed the feasibility of the proposed BCI-FES system by conducting a sequential task with fixed order under a semi-asynchronous mode. Section 5 discusses the findings of the present research along with implications and future directions.[…]

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Figure 1. Schematic illustration of the experiment procedure. Text in the blue box indicates the auditory cue that played at the beginning of each period, and INI is an abbreviation of the Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) initiation period. MI: Motor Imagery.

 

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[Abstract + References] FES for abnormal movement of upper limb during walking in post-stroke subjects

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Hemiplegia can cause accidental falls, as the patients place their arms in front of their chests or next to the hips when they walk. This is due to limitations in the ability to swing their arms during walking.

OBJECTIVE: This study proposes a functional electrical stimulator approach in order to improve the foot drop and abnormal movement of the upper limbs during walking. The goal of this study is to verify the feasibility of improving the foot drop and arm swing problems of hemiplegic patients using electrical stimulators in a clinical trial.

METHODS: The present study utilizes a functional electrical stimulator found on the market. The stimulator is controlling the gait and arm swing of the patient while the patient is walking. It can help him or her restore regular gait cycles and arm swings. The FES device can also train the patient to walk safely and regain control of his or her arm swing. After the four-week training, the subjects had to walk 10 meters without the FES system. The step length, step time, and joint goniograms were recorded in order to determine whether there was any improvement.

RESULTS: After the four-week training was concluded, the three post-stroke patients showed an improvement in arm swing angle when walking. The improvement was found to be 7.16% in the first patient, 43.06% in the second, and 54.66% in the third. These results are all statistically significant. The t-test had a p-value 0.012 (p< 0.05), which demonstrated that the method used in the present study had the potential to significantly improve the arm swing of post-stroke patients.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study showed that a traditional foot drop functional electrical stimulator providing stimulation also to the patient’s upper limbs, while being triggered by a foot switch under his or her heel, can help the patient to swing the arms and reduce the foot drop. The method has significant effect on traditional foot drop therapy. The subjects’ high degree of acceptance and willingness to commit to long-term use showed that the method is indeed worthy of further research.

References

  1. Y. Lazorthes and A. R. M. Upton, Neurostimulation: An overview: Futura Pub. Co., 1985.Google Scholar
  2. W. T. Liberson, H. J. Holmquest, D. Scot, et al., Functional electrotherapy: stimulation of the peroneal nerve synchronized with the swing phase of the gait of hemiplegic patients, Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation42, 1961, p. 101-105.Google Scholar
  3. J. H. Moe and H. W. Post, Functional electrical stimulation for ambulation in hemiplegia, The Journal-lancet82, 1962, p. 285-288.Google Scholar
  4. P. Strojnik, A. Kralj and I. Ursic, Programmed six-channel electrical stimulator for complex stimulation of leg muscles during walking, IEEE transactions on bio-medical engineering26, 1979, p. 112-116.Google Scholar
  5. A. Kralj, T. Bajd, R. Turk, et al., Gait restoration in paraplegic patients: A feasibility demonstration using multichannel surface electrode FES, Journal of rehabilitation R&D / Veterans Administration, Department of Medicine and Surgery, Rehabilitation R&D Service20, 1983, p. 3-20.Google Scholar
  6. J. Chae, L. Sheffler and J. Knutson, Neuromuscular electrical stimulation for motor restoration in hemiplegia, Topics in stroke rehabilitation15, 2008, p. 412-426.Google Scholar
  7. T. Bajd, M. Munih and A. Kralj, Problems associated with FES-standing in paraplegia, Technology and health care: Official journal of the European Society for Engineering and Medicine7, 1999, p. 301-308. Google Scholar
  8. S. Galen, L. Wiggins, R. McWilliam, et al., A combination of Botulinum Toxin A therapy and Functional Electrical Stimulation in children with cerebral palsy – a pilot study, Technology and health care: Official journal of the European Society for Engineering and Medicine20, 2012, p. 1-9. Google Scholar
  9. J. Verellen, Y. Vanlandewijck, B. Andrews, et al., Cardiorespiratory responses during arm ergometry, functional electrical stimulation cycling, and two hybrid exercise conditions in spinal cord injured, Disability and rehabilitation Assistive technology2, 2007, p. 127-132.Google Scholar
  10. P. C. Sweeney, G.M. Lyons and P. H. Veltink, Finite state control of functional electrical stimulation for the rehabilitation of gait, Medical & biological engineering & computing38, 2000, p. 121-126.Google Scholar
  11. W. L. Chen, S. C. Chen, C. C. Chen, et al., Patient-driven loop control for ambulation function restoration in a non-invasive functional electrical stimulation system, Disability and rehabilitation32, 2010, p. 65-71.Google Scholar
  12. G. Alon and H. Ring, Gait and hand function enhancement following training with a multi-segment hybrid-orthosis stimulation system in stroke patients, Journal of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases: The official journal of National Stroke Association12, 2003, p. 209-216.Google Scholar
  13. J. H. Cauraugh and S. Kim, Two coupled motor recovery protocols are better than one: Electromyogram-triggered neuromuscular stimulation and bilateral movements, Stroke; A journal of cerebral circulation33, 2002, p. 1589-1594.Google Scholar
  14. J. Perry and J. M. Burnfield, Gait Analysis: Normal and Pathological Function: Slack Incorporated, 2010.Google Scholar

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[WEB SITE] New technology is helping patients to get moving again – News

A ground-breaking ’bicycle’ which simulates muscle movements is helping a range of patients with long-term mobility problems caused by head or spinal injuries, stroke or MS. Julie Blackburn watched a demonstration.

One morning in April last year Jason Moffatt from Peel woke up with a headache.

And not just any normal headache, as he recalls: ’I don’t usually do headaches and this one was the worst: it felt like my head was about to explode out of the top.’

He put up with it for a while then decided it ’might be worth popping into the A&E’. It was lucky he did because an examination and subsequent scan revealed dried blood on his brain. He had suffered a bleed.

Jason was flown off the island to Walton Hospital in Liverpool for an operation but during surgery he suffered a stroke which left him paralysed down the left side of his body.

’I then spent three months in Liverpool, learning to walk again and do everyday tasks,’ he says.

While there, Jason realised that strokes do not just happen to older people, but to plenty of younger ones too.

Back on the island his rehabilitation programme has included sessions on a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bicycle.

FES is a technique that uses low energy electrical pulses and has been found to be effective in restoring voluntary functions.

These pulses artificially generate body movements in specific muscle groups through electrodes placed on the patient’s body.

Jason’s physiotherapist is Christine Wright, from the Community Adult Therapy Services team. She specialises in helping patients with long-term neurological conditions and she demonstrated how the machine works.

Once the electrodes are positioned on the muscle groups which Jason needs to get working, he sits in a chair which is attached to the machine with his legs strapped onto the ’pedals’.

His session starts with a warm-up of around one and a half minutes before the resistance increases and he is working hard, concentrating on putting in more effort on his left leg.

Having started his treatments with around 10 to 15 minutes on the bike, Jason has now built up to 30 minutes in each session.

’I’ll be sweating at the end of this,’ he says.

As she keeps an eye on his progress, Christine explains: ’Although it’s a bike, the pattern of movement is simulating walking: each turn of the bike gives Jason a step.

’Numbers of repetitions lead to changes in the brain and the development of new neural pathways.

’The bike also strengthens the muscles so that, when those connections in the brain reform, those muscles are there, ready to be used.’

It has probably served Jason well that he was a keen cyclist before he became ill, having done the End2End mountain bike race, as well as the Parish Walk to Peel and the End to End walk.

He knows that he is also fortunate to have the use of the FES bicycle. When he was doing rehab in Liverpool, at a large, dedicated 30-bed rehab centre there, they didn’t have one: ’It was basically just a gym,’ he recalls. This is true of most rehab units where FES simulators are not part of the standard kit.

’We’re incredibly lucky to have this,’ Christine says.

This machine was purchased for the Community Physiotherapy Department two years ago with £11,695 provided by the Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust.

The Trust’s main remit is to provide equipment over and above what the DHSC in the island would be able to buy.

It has been a great success for Christine and the other physiotherapists, Graihagh Betteridge and Rosie Callow, who are also trained to use the machine.

As well as working on patients’ lower limbs, the simulator can be detached from the bicycle element and used as a portable machine.

It can then be taken to people’s homes and used to help them regain shoulder and arm movement.

At the moment the department has to ration the machine’s use.

They take around 25 to 30 patients at a time, usually for a six-eight week course, with a session once a week on the bike.

They have a waiting list, both with new patients and patients who have had a course already and need further treatment. Because of this the Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust has agreed to purchase a second bicycle so more patients will have the chance to use one.

Chairman of the Trust, Terry Groves, said: ’Jason’s story, and many others, have shown the value of this FES bicycle in managing differing conditions and rehabilitation.

’Recognising the continuing donations made to our Healthcare Trust we are delighted to fund the acquisition of this second FES bicycle from our funds so that continuing strides in this important area of aftercare can be made.’

Jason himself is delighted with the progress he has made using the bicycle: ’I can see an improvement. I can walk further and with a better balance,’ he says.

His aim now is to get back on his (real) bike.

Christine smiles when he says this. ’You will do it,’ she assures him.

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[VIDEO] Stroke Rehabilitation: Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for grasp and release – YouTube

Stroke Rehab ideas for incorporating your electrical stimulation (SaeboStim Pro) device in practicing grasp and release with your affected arm and hand. Home therapy series from Saebo UK

 

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[WEB SITE] Staying One Step Ahead – Rehab Managment

Staying One Step Ahead

photo caption: Patient walks with an AFO which supports his ankle. While the loss of muscles in his lower leg will be permanent, the orthosis will stabilize the foot and aid in walking.

by Polly Swingle, PT, GCS, CEEAA, and Brian Paulson, CPO

Foot drop is a potentially painful—and even disabling—condition where an individual has difficulty raising (or a complete inability to raise) the front of the foot. Foot drop—also referred to as dropped foot or drop foot—is caused by a damage or impairment to the muscles and nerves responsible for lifting the foot. The resulting weakness or paralysis leads to characteristic symptoms that most obviously manifest in an altered gait. Because individuals suffering from foot drop cannot properly lift their foot, they may drag their toes on the ground while walking. To avoid this potentially painful and dangerous impairment (which can damage the foot and increase the risk of falling), foot drop patients may utilize a “steppage gait,” a common compensation tactic where they lift their knee(s) higher in a marching-style walk or swing their leg(s) outward.

Causes of Foot Drop

It is important to understand foot drop is not a disease; it is a symptom. There are several types of damage or diseases that can weaken nerves and/or muscles and lead to foot drop, but the three most common are an injury to the peroneal nerve that controls the muscles responsible for lifting the foot; muscular compromise due to a disorder such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or muscular dystrophy; and neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or stroke.

Patient has a diagnosis of Cauda Equina injury due to a lumbar discectomy that had complications, and resulted in loss of his distal muscles controlling the ankle. The intervention for this injury is physical therapy for strengthening the intact muscle above the ankle, as well as balance activities and a solid AFO.

Treatment Options

There are four basic categories of treatment options for foot drop. Because successfully treating foot drop almost always depends on addressing/correcting the underlying cause of the condition, the best course of treatment and therapeutic care can vary significantly from one patient to the next.

Treatment options include the following:

Surgical intervention

Surgical treatment options can be effective for foot drop patients whose condition has been caused by physical damage to nerves or muscles. A herniated disc, tumor, or other spinal condition that has damaged or pinched a nerve can often be addressed surgically. Damaged muscles or tendons in the leg or foot can also be repaired in surgery. Patients suffering from persistent or chronic foot drop that is resistant to treatment may benefit from surgical intervention that fuses the bones of the ankle or foot, or even surgery that transplants and/or reconfigures tendon and muscle.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES)

In cases where peroneal nerve damage or impairment is causing foot drop, functional electrical stimulation (FES) can be an effective form of treatment. Therapeutic FES treatment in conjunction with physical therapy can help stimulate damaged nerves and muscles and promote motor recovery.

FES treatment uses sophisticated equipment to deliver targeted pulses of electrical current that evoke muscle contraction and activity. This can improve muscle functionality, enhance blood flow and range of motion, reverse muscle atrophy, and—in some cases—help foot drop sufferers regain some or all of their ability to lift their foot/feet and walk normally. Portable FES devices designed specifically for foot drop patients are also available. These systems deliver low-level FES impulses targeting the peroneal nerve, allowing wearers to achieve improved foot dorsiflexion and walk more naturally—with improved speed, stability, and confidence. These two-part systems use a specialized sensor to monitor the motion and position of the leg, in conjunction with a stimulator that delivers the electrical impulse and stimulates the peroneal nerve.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is an important and often effective treatment option for foot drop that can be used alone or in conjunction with another treatment. The overall goal of any therapeutic or rehabilitation program for foot drop is to strengthen the muscles in the foot, ankle, and lower leg, enhance joint function and range of motion, prevent stiffness, minimize the chances of re-injury, improve balance and stability, and ultimately achieve improved mobility and regain a normal gait.

While the specific details of a therapy program for foot drop symptoms may vary from patient to patient, strength and balance training, stretching, and range of motion exercises are standard. Exercises include stretching with towels or exercise bands, seated or standing lifts, ankle dorsiflexion and plantar flexion exercises (pulling the foot toward you and pushing it away from you) with resistance from exercise bands, and even picking up small objects with your toes.

Foot drop patients should participate in a personalized therapeutic program under the guidance of a physical therapist with demonstrated experience working with foot drop patients. While in-office visits and therapy sessions are critical, most programs also include a home component with a series of exercises that the patient can perform independently.

External support and bracing

After determining the root cause for the foot drop and beginning a therapy program that incorporates the many facets of therapeutic care, including strength training, range-of-motion stretches, balance training, etc, the next step involves orthotic treatment to improve function and safety while reducing the risk of joint damage until the patient has fully recovered. An ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) can help to stabilize the affected foot and help foot drop patients maintain a normal foot position.

It is highly advisable that doctors and therapists who frequently see patients with foot drop take the time to establish a good working relationship with an orthotist. That relationship is the key to ensuring a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach where the patient, the therapist, and the orthotist are all on the same page.

Patient Safety

The highest priority of orthotic care is patient safety. Safety can be greatly improved by use of an AFO by restricting or reducing plantar flexion during swing phase of gait, and thereby reducing the risk of a fall due to catching the toes on the ground. Without the use of an AFO, many gait deviations are utilized to clear the foot during swing phase, including circumduction, hip hiking, and contralateral vaulting. These deviations increase the energy expenditure of the gait and can create muscle imbalances that often lead to further issues and complications.

Early Intervention

Early orthotic intervention is also beneficial for reducing the risk of joint contractures in patients with increased tone, such as a post-CVA foot drop with resulting equinovarus foot position. The AFO can properly position the foot in the coronal and sagittal plane to help maintain functional joint range of motion.

Innovations and Options

Revolutionary changes have taken place in the orthotic industry in the past 20 years. New lightweight materials have been introduced that are not only supportive, but can also provide energy storage and return to assist with push-off at terminal stance for patients with weak calf muscles.

When determining what kind of orthosis would provide the optimal treatment for a foot drop patient, one concept should always be remembered: joint motion should be permitted in an orthosis when sufficient muscle control and strength are present to move the joint normally through the available range. What this means is that, while support is crucial, “overbracing” a patient can create many negative consequences; some of which include muscular atrophy, dependence on the orthosis, and replacing one gait deviation with another by taking away the essential three rockers of gait. It is essential that when a patient has sufficient strength to control the ankle joint in a certain motion, that the orthotic allows them to do so.

One example of overbracing would be putting a patient with a flaccid foot drop (weak dorsiflexors) but strong plantar flexors into a solid ankle AFO. This AFO solution would prevent them from using their calf musculature at terminal stance for push-off. It also would prevent anterior tibial translation during the second rocker of gait, creating an unsmooth rigid transition through mid-stance. That could subsequently lead to genu recurvatum by restricting dorsiflexion of the ankle. A more appropriate AFO selection may be something with flexibility that has enough plantar flexion resistance to improve clearance of the foot during swing phase, but also lets the patient use their own musculature for other motions that they can control appropriately.

Manufacturers provide plentiful options to the physical therapy market for off-the-shelf and custom AFOs. Rockaway, NJ-headquartered Allard USA offers AFOs designed especially for foot drop that provide mild, moderate, and maximum stability. The company’s ToeOFF is a carbon composite dynamic response floor reaction AFO designed to keep the foot up during swing phase and provide a soft heel strike in addition to stability in stand and good toe-off. The company also offers the ToeOFF and the BlueROCKER as custom AFOs when more specific needs must be met, such as fit issues related to unique leg shapes, alignment issues, or calf atrophy/hypertrophy. Another manufacturer, DJO Global, Dallas, offers a line of AFOs including the lightweight Posterior Leaf Splint AFO, designed to provide utility for mild to moderate foot drop needs. Cascade Dafo Inc, Ferndale, Wash, offers a versatile line of pediatric dynamic AFOs that are available as customized products and feature colors and design elements that will appeal to children.

Ongoing Consultation

As recovery progresses, the orthotist should be consulted on a regular basis so that the AFO can be changed or modified throughout each stage of rehabilitation. As the patient’s condition changes, the therapeutic remedies (from exercises to AFO solutions) should change with them. The ultimate goal is to eventually eliminate the need for the brace entirely, because full function has been regained. In the meantime, the proper orthosis can be very beneficial in improving function and safety until independence is possible without it. RM

Polly Swingle, PT, GCS, CEEAA, is co-founder and lead physical therapist of The Recovery Project, which provides progressive, effective, evidence-based neuro rehab therapies that improve the quality of life and functionality of patients with spinal cord, neurological, and traumatic brain injuries at its three Michigan-based locations.

Brian Paulson, CPO, is a clinical manager for Wright and Filippis, a Michigan-based provider of prosthetics, orthotics, custom mobility products, and accessibility solutions with over 70 years of experience. For more information, contact RehabEditor@medqor.com.

 

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[WEB PAGE] Gaining Ground Against Neurological Injury

Gaining Ground Against Neurological Injury

photo caption: Elizabeth Watson, PT, DPT, NCS, works with a client on gait training using a robot-assisted over-treadmill dynamic body weight support system.

by Elizabeth Watson, PT, DPT, NCS

Recovery following a neurological injury is a long, slow process and does not follow a set time frame. Recovery is about more than just walking; it is about regaining function and improving overall quality of life.

This article explores a specialized program at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital-Jefferson Health in Philadelphia called Gaining Ground. The goal of Gaining Ground is to extend Magee’s mission beyond traditional physical and cognitive therapy services and reduce the barriers to continued exercise and wellness. This article also highlights the different technologies used during this program and the impact on the quality of life of the participants.

Increased evidence supports the benefits of exercise and physical activity on the physiologic and psychosocial function of individuals following neurological injuries.1 In addition, physical inactivity following a neurological injury leads to increased vulnerability to secondary health complications, including cardiovascular disease and loss of bone density and muscle mass.1 Evidence-based physical activity guidelines have been established for the general population and those with disabilities. These guidelines highlight the importance of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and strength training for individuals with spinal cord injuries and stroke survivors.2,3

Making Progress Accessible

Barriers to continued exercise following a neurological injury include lack of accessible fitness facilities, absence of personal assistants knowledgeable about exercise programs appropriate for those with neurological injuries, absence of specialized equipment, and fear of injury. Gaining Ground was developed to reduce these barriers.

Gaining Ground is an individualized exercise program, taking into account the goals and abilities of the client. The intensive, boot camp-style program takes place 3 days a week for 4 weeks. Clients vary in presentation from those at a power wheelchair level to ambulatory patients. Some are more recently injured, just finishing outpatient therapy and looking to be challenged further and establish a wellness program. Other clients have been injured for more than 20 years and are exploring newer technologies and treatment techniques that did not exist when they were first injured. These clients find that the program’s intense nature often encourages a continued wellness program after Gaining Ground ends.

Program Structure

Each day includes 4 hours of exercise. A one-on-one training session with an activity-based therapy specialist focuses on increasing cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and flexibility, sitting or standing tolerance, and balance. Working with a physical therapist provides the opportunity to continue working toward goals not reached during traditional therapy, as well as a chance to trial different technologies and specialized equipment working toward more neurological recovery. Once a client’s program is established, he or she is set up on specialized equipment such as a locomotor device or FES cycle for an hour of activity-based exercise.

A daily group exercise class helps increase strength, improve cardiovascular endurance, and enhance overall well-being. Exercises emphasize the muscle groups of the upper extremity and core necessary to complete daily functional activities. Group sessions include a circuit using the multi-station wheelchair-accessible weight machine, a wheelchair-accessible upper extremity exerciser, a conventional weight machine, a free weight and therapy band circuit training program, and getting onto the floor to work on whole body exercises. This allows clients the opportunity to practice getting on and off the floor in a safe environment and reduce the negative association of being on the floor related to falls. The group environment fosters interaction with others working toward a common goal.

Cardiorespiratory and strength training presented in a group setting with peers provides not just physical but also emotional improvements.1,4 Depression scores and bodily pain scores decreased after participation in a group exercise program for individuals with spinal cord injuries. Past participants of Gaining Ground have commented on the motivating environment of the group sessions.

Equipment utilized during the program may include functional electrical stimulation systems, gait training devices such as the robot-assisted over-treadmill dynamic body weight support system, mobile robotic over-ground body weight support system, lower extremity robotic exoskeletons, vibration therapy plate, computerized balance system, wheelchair-accessible upper extremity exerciser, multi-station wheelchair accessible weight machine, resistance circuit trainer, rowing ergometer, recumbent trainer, and upper body ergometer. A few of the more advanced technologies are detailed below.

Most Gaining Ground clients utilize the robot-assisted body weight support system two to three times a week.
One-on-one training focuses on cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, sitting or standing tolerance, and balance.

Body Weight Support Training

The robot-assisted over-treadmill dynamic body weight support system utilizes robotic-assisted gait training. A harness suspends the patient over a treadmill while the legs are guided through the walking pattern using a robotic orthosis. Speed, the amount of load through the legs, and the amount of guidance provided by the robotic orthosis, are all variables that can be adjusted to appropriately challenge the client. The robot-assisted over-treadmill body weight support system enables effective and intensive training promoting neuroplasticity and recovery potential.

This system can be used with various augmented performance feedback games. The level of difficulty can be chosen based on the client’s ability and therapy focus. Studies have shown that when using augmented performance feedback, muscle activation and cardiovascular exertion can be considerably increased.5 Most clients in the Gaining Ground Program utilize this device two to three times a week.

The mobile robotic over-ground body weight support system allows a therapist to work on overground balance and gait training, bridging the gap between treadmill-based activities and free walking. The system can provide body-weight support equally or asymmetrically depending on a client’s impairments. Therapists can steer this device or choose the mode that allows a patient to work on self-directed gait. Therapists can challenge the patient with various balance and functional activities by using a balance board, steps, or varied terrain within the width of the device’s frame.

Exoskeleton Training

Another type of equipment used for upright positioning and gait training are robotic exoskeletons designed for the lower limbs. These wearable bionic suits help patients with lower extremity weakness or paralysis to stand and walk overground using a reciprocal pattern with full weight bearing using a walker, crutches, or cane. Sensors in the device trigger a step once the patient shifts weight in the appropriate manner. Motors in the hip and knee joints power the movement in place of decreased leg function. During the Gaining Ground program, therapists use the exoskeletal devices in two ways. The robotic exoskeleton allows those with motor complete spinal cord injuries the opportunity to be upright and reap the benefits of dynamic weight bearing. These include maintenance of bone mass, improved balance and trunk activation, improved sleep, mental outlook, mood and motivation, improved bowel and bladder function with decreased incidence of UTIs, decreased pain, decreased incidence of pressure ulcers, reduction in fat mass, and increase in lean body mass.

These devices can also be used to retrain weight shifting and gait patterns of clients with incomplete spinal cord injuries, and post stroke or traumatic brain injury. As a client relearns the appropriate gait pattern, the amount of assistance provided by the motors is adjusted at each leg and each joint individually to challenge the client. Improved gait parameters and gait speed have been seen following gait retraining using exoskeletal devices with individuals who have incomplete paralysis.

Functional Electrical Stimulation

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is used in various forms during the Gaining Ground program. Some clients are set up on the FES cycle or FES seated elliptical. Electrodes are placed on up to 12 muscles of the upper extremity, core, or lower extremities. The therapist can customize the stimulation settings to evoke the desired muscle contraction for each muscle group. The motor of the cycle provides the support necessary to complete the cycling motion in conjunction with the stimulation-producing muscle contractions for either upper extremity or lower extremity cycling.

Many patients with neurological injuries experience decreased mobility and physiological function. This more sedentary lifestyle caused by immobility contributes to secondary health complications and the chance of re-hospitalization. The benefits of the FES systems extend beyond reducing muscle atrophy and improving motor function. Studies have shown a positive therapeutic benefit affecting many health conditions including pneumonia, hypertension, heart disease, spasticity, bone density, pressure wounds, urinary tract infections, sepsis, diabetes, weight gain, depression, and quality of life.6

The task-specific integrated functional electrical stimulation systems are utilized by therapists in the Gaining Ground program to work on coordinated, dynamic movement patterns and functional skills with up to 12 channels of stimulation. Each activity has the correct sequenced stimulation pattern to perform the prescribed activity. Common programs worked on during the Gaining Ground program include seated postural correction, bridging, sit to stands, standing, and UE movement patterns. One client with a diagnosis of C4 AIS B tetraplegia demonstrated improved self-feeding and the ability to access the controls on his power wheelchair joystick versus switch options after using the forward reach and grasp program for two consecutive rounds of Gaining Ground.

A robotic exoskeleton was used to help retrain Nicole’s weight shifting and gait patterns during Gaining Ground therapy sessions.

Case Study

Nicole suffered a T2 AIS B injury on August 18, 2018, after an auto accident. In addition to several broken vertebrae, she also suffered six broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and lacerations to her head, face, and hands. Doctors performed two surgeries on her spine, and she underwent intense respiratory therapy. Nicole attended Gaining Ground about 7 months after her injury. She “loved how it pushed [her] out of her comfort zone.” Nicole recognized the individualized nature of the program and how it could be customized to fit her goals. Nicole’s program incorporated use of the exoskeleton or the task-specific integrated FES system for postural retraining and standing during her therapy hours and the robotic over-treadmill dynamic body weight support system three times a week. The training sessions with the activity-based therapy specialist demonstrated what she could achieve independently to continue to challenge herself after the program. As a personal trainer prior to injury, Nicole found this especially valuable. Nicole demonstrated significant progress in her ability to get up and down off the floor each week and realized how important a skill this is.

Magee’s Gaining Ground Program offers clients the opportunity to improve their functional independence and emotional well-being, while setting goals for future wellness initiatives. The small group setting has proven beneficial in helping individuals achieve these goals and make new friends in the process. RM

Elizabeth Watson, PT, DPT, NCS, is clinical supervisor of the Locomotor Training Clinic at Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia. She also serves as adjunct professor for area physical therapy programs. In 2018, Dr Watson received the SCI Spinal Interest Group Award for Excellence. Watson earned her DPT from Temple University and is ABPTS certified in Neurologic Physical Therapy. She has presented nationally and published case studies on locomotor training. For more information, contact RehabEditor@medqor.com.

References

  1. Crane DA, Hoffman JM, Reyes MR. Benefits of an exercise wellness program after spinal cord injury. J Spinal Cord Med. 2017;40(2):154-158.
  2. Martin Ginis KA, van der Scheer JW, Latimer-Cheung AE, et al. Evidence-based scientific exercise guidelines for adults with spinal cord injury: an update and a new guideline. Spinal Cord. 2018;45:308-321.
  3. Gordon NF, Gulanick M, Costa F, et al. Physical activity and exercise recommendations for stroke survivors: an American Heart Association scientific statement from the Council on Clinical Cardiology, Subcommittee on Exercise, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Prevention; the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; and the Stroke Council. Stroke. 2004;35(5):1230-1240.
  4. Saunders DH, Greig CA, Mead GE. Physical activity and exercise after stroke, review of multiple meaningful benefits. Stroke. 2014;45: 3742–3747.
  5. Zimmerli L, Jacky M, LÜnenburger L, Reiner R, Bolliger M. Increasing patient engagement during virtual reality-based motor rehabilitation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013;94(9):1737-1746.
  6. Dolbow DR, Gorgey AS, Ketchum JM, Gater DR. Home-based functional electrical stimulation cycling enhances quality of life in individuals with spinal cord injury. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 2013 Fall;19(4):324-329.

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[Book Chapter] A Sensorimotor Rhythm-Based Brain–Computer Interface Controlled Functional Electrical Stimulation for Handgrasp Rehabilitation. (Abstract + References)

Abstract

Each year, 795,000 stroke patients suffer a new or recurrent stroke and 235,000 severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur in the US. These patients are susceptible to a combination of significant motor, sensory, and cognitive deficits, and it becomes difficult or impossible for them to perform activities of daily living due to residual functional impairments. Recently, sensorimotor rhythm (SMR)-based brain–computer interface (BCI)-controlled functional electrical stimulation (FES) has been studied for restoration and rehabilitation of motor deficits. To provide future neuroergonomists with the limitations of current BCI-controlled FES research, this chapter presents the state-of-the-art SMR-based BCI-controlled FES technologies, such as current motor imagery (MI) training procedures and guidelines, an EEG-channel montage used to decode MI features, and brain features evoked by MI.

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[Abstract] An Omnidirectional Assistive Platform Integrated With Functional Electrical Stimulation for Gait Rehabilitation: A Case Study

Abstract

This paper presents a novel omnidirectional platform for gait rehabilitation of people with hemiparesis after stroke. The mobile platform, henceforth the “walker”, allows unobstructed pelvic motion during walking, helps the user maintain balance and prevents falls. The system aids mobility actively by combining three types of therapeutic intervention: forward propulsion of the pelvis, controlled body weight support, and functional electrical stimulation (FES) for compensation of deficits in angular motion of the joints. FES is controlled using gait data extracted from a set of inertial measurement units (IMUs) worn by the user. The resulting closed-loop FES system synchronizes stimulation with the gait cycle phases and automatically adapts to the variations in muscle activation caused by changes in residual muscle activity and spasticity. A pilot study was conducted to determine the potential outcomes of the different interventions. One chronic stroke survivor underwent five sessions of gait training, each one involving a total of 30 minutes using the walker and FES system. The patient initially exhibited severe anomalies in joint angle trajectories on both the paretic and the non-paretic side. With training, the patient showed progressive increase in cadence and self-selected gait speed, along with consistent decrease in double-support time. FES helped correct the paretic foot angle during swing phase, and likely was a factor in observed improvements in temporal gait symmetry. Although the experiments showed favorable changes in the paretic trajectories, they also highlighted the need for intervention on the non-paretic side.

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