Effect of functional electrical stimulation (FES) combined with robotically assisted treadmill training on the EMG profile.
ABSTRACT Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is used to assist spinal cord injury patients during walking. However, FES has yet to be shown to have lasting effects on the underlying neurophysiology which lead to long-term rehabilitation. A new approach to FES has been developed by which stimulation is timed to robotically controlled movements in an attempt to promote long-term rehabilitation of walking. This approach was tested in a rodent model of spinal cord injury. Rats who received this FES therapy during a 2-week training period exhibited peak EMG activity during the appropriate phase of the gait cycle; whereas, rats who received stimulation which was randomly timed with respect to their motor activity exhibited no clear pattern in their EMG profile. These results from our newly developed FES system serve as a launching point for many future studies to test and understand the long-term effect of FES on spinal cord rehabilitation.