Novel instrumented frame for standing exercising of users with complete spinal cord injuries

Zoulias, Ioannis D.; Armengol, Monica; Poulton, Adrian; Andrews, Brian; Gibbons, Robin; Harwin, William S. and Holderbaum, William (2019). Novel instrumented frame for standing exercising of users with complete spinal cord injuries. Scientific Reports, 9, article no. 13003.



This paper describes a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) standing system for rehabilitation of bone mineral density (BMD) in people with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). BMD recovery offers an increased quality of life for people with SCI by reducing their risk of fractures. The standing system developed comprises an instrumented frame equipped with force plates and load cells, a motion capture system, and a purpose built 16-channel FES unit. This system can simultaneously record and process a wide range of biomechanical data to produce muscle stimulation which enables users with SCI to safely stand and exercise. An exergame provides visual feedback to the user to assist with upper-body posture control during exercising. To validate the system an alternate weight-shift exercise was used; 3 participants with complete SCI exercised in the system for 1 hour twice-weekly for 6 months. We observed ground reaction forces over 70% of the full body-weight distributed to the supporting leg at each exercising cycle. Exercise performance improved for each participant by an increase of 13.88 percentage points of body-weight in the loading of the supporting leg during the six-month period. Importantly, the observed ground reaction forces are of higher magnitude than other studies which reported positive effects on BMD. This novel instrumentation aims to investigate weight bearing standing therapies aimed at determining the biomechanics of lower limb joint force actions and postural kinematics.

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