Wireless distributed functional electrical stimulation system
1 School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
2 Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2012, 9:54 doi:10.1186/1743-0003-9-54Published: 9 August 2012
The control of movement in humans is hierarchical and distributed and uses feedback. An assistive system could be best integrated into the therapy of a human with a central nervous system lesion if the system is controlled in a similar manner. Here, we present a novel wireless architecture and routing protocol for a distributed functional electrical stimulation system that enables control of movement.
The new system comprises a set of miniature battery-powered devices with stimulating and sensing functionality mounted on the body of the subject. The devices communicate wirelessly with one coordinator device, which is connected to a host computer. The control algorithm runs on the computer in open- or closed-loop form. A prototype of the system was designed using commercial, off-the-shelf components. The propagation characteristics of electromagnetic waves and the distributed nature of the system were considered during the development of a two-hop routing protocol, which was implemented in the prototype’s software.
The outcomes of this research include a novel system architecture and routing protocol and a functional prototype based on commercial, off-the-shelf components. A proof-of-concept study was performed on a hemiplegic subject with paresis of the right arm. The subject was tasked with generating a fully functional palmar grasp (closing of the fingers). One node was used to provide this movement, while a second node controlled the activation of extensor muscles to eliminate undesired wrist flexion. The system was tested with the open- and closed-loop control algorithms.
The system fulfilled technical and application requirements. The novel communication protocol enabled reliable real-time use of the system in both closed- and open-loop forms. The testing on a patient showed that the multi-node system could operate effectively to generate functional movement.