Control strategies adopted by elite FES rowers

Sareh, Sina; Andrews, Brian J; Green, Matthew and Poulton, Adrian S (2008). Control strategies adopted by elite FES rowers. In: 13th Annual Conference of the International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society, 21-25 Sep 2008, Freiburg, Germany.


Functional electrical stimulation (FES) rowing is a form of hybrid physical exercise for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). In the present implementation, a modified Concept 2 indoor rowing ergometer has been instrumented to record biomechanical data. FES is manually controlled using a momentary action switch mounted onto the handle.

Preliminary results are presented for an expert paraplegic FES rower who has since 2004 competed successfully in major indoor rowing championships.

The kinematics reveals a fast stroke rate with short stroke length compare with normal. This is associated with restricted trunk motion, which is probably less efficient that normal rowing. The temporal pattern of control switch operation indicates a honed motor skill in which the rower continuously predict the system dynamics and muscle responses and switches with a surprisingly high consistency typically within +/- 30ms. This suggests that the control of FES rowing, once learned, is performed with minimal cortical load.

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