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J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2014 Mar 4;11:27. doi: 10.1186/1743-0003-11-27.

Hybrid FES-robot cooperative control of ambulatory gait rehabilitation exoskeleton.

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  • 1Biomechanics and Technical Aids Unit, National Hospital for Spinal Cord Injury, SESCAM, Toledo, Spain.


Robotic and functional electrical stimulation (FES) approaches are used for rehabilitation of walking impairment of spinal cord injured individuals. Although devices are commercially available, there are still issues that remain to be solved. Control of hybrid exoskeletons aims at blending robotic exoskeletons and electrical stimulation to overcome the drawbacks of each approach while preserving their advantages. Hybrid actuation and control have a considerable potential for walking rehabilitation but there is a need of novel control strategies of hybrid systems that adequately manage the balance between FES and robotic controllers. Combination of FES and robotic control is a challenging issue, due to the non-linear behavior of muscle under stimulation and the lack of developments in the field of hybrid control. In this article, a cooperative control strategy of a hybrid exoskeleton is presented. This strategy is designed to overcome the main disadvantages of muscular stimulation: electromechanical delay and change in muscle performance over time, and to balance muscular and robotic actuation during walking.Experimental results in healthy subjects show the ability of the hybrid FES-robot cooperative control to balance power contribution between exoskeleton and muscle stimulation. The robotic exoskeleton decreases assistance while adequate knee kinematics are guaranteed. A new technique to monitor muscle performance is employed, which allows to estimate muscle fatigue and implement muscle fatigue management strategies. Kinesis is therefore the first ambulatory hybrid exoskeleton that can effectively balance robotic and FES actuation during walking. This represents a new opportunity to implement new rehabilitation interventions to induce locomotor activity in patients with paraplegia.Acronym list: 10 mWT: ten meters walking test; 6 MWT: six minutes walking test; FSM: finite-state machine; t-FSM: time-domain FSM; c-FSM: cycle-domain FSM; FES: functional electrical stimulation; HKAFO: hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis; ILC: iterative error-based learning control; MFE: muscle fatigue estimator; NILC: Normalized stimulation output from ILC controller; PID: Proportional-Integral-derivative Control; PW: Stimulation pulse width; QUEST: Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with assistive Technology; SCI: Spinal cord injury; TTI: torque-time integral; VAS: Visual Analog Scale.

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