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Med Eng Phys. 2009 Jul;31(6):650-9. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2008.12.005. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Cycling for children with neuromuscular impairments using electrical stimulation--development of tricycle-based systems.

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Shriners Hospitals for Children Philadelphia, 3551 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA.



Cycling using functional electrical stimulation (FES-cycling) is a well defined exercise method for adults with spinal cord injury (SCI). Although little studied thus far, FES-cycling also has the potential to offer a means of exercise to pediatric populations, such as SCI or cerebral palsy (CP), that presently have few alternative options. The primary aim of this study was to develop FES-cycling equipment and methods which can meet the differing needs of children with SCI and CP.


Design criteria were determined based on key considerations for pediatric FES-cycling. Two separate prototype systems for training/recreation and laboratory-based research were built to meet these specifications. To experimentally verify the equipment, FES-cycling tests involving one child with motor complete SCI and one child with diplegic spastic CP were performed using the laboratory system.


Experimental verification indicated that FES-cycling experiments involving children with SCI and CP are feasible provided that accurate measurement of both propulsive and resistive torque is achieved. Specific seating and orthotic needs for each subject population were met by both systems.


The FES-cycling systems described here may assist in future investigations of pediatric FES-cycling performance and novel exercise regimes designed specifically for children.

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