Closed-Loop Asynchronous Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Prolongs Functional Movements in the Lower Body

Ryan J. Downey*, Teng-Hu Cheng, Matthew J. Bellman, Warren E. Dixon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is commonly used in rehabilitative settings and is also used for assistive purposes to create functional movements, where it is termed functional electrical stimulation (FES). One limitation of NMES/FES is early onset of muscle fatigue. NMES-induced fatigue can be reduced by switching between multiple stimulation channels that target different motor units or synergistic muscles (i.e., asynchronous stimulation). However, switching stimulation channels introduces additional complexity due to the need to consider the switching dynamics and differing muscle response to stimulation. The objective of this study was to develop and test a closed-loop controller for asynchronous stimulation. The developed closed-loop controller yields asymptotic tracking of a desired trajectory for a person's knee-shank complex despite switching between stimulation channels. The developed controller was implemented on four able-bodied individuals with four-channel asynchronous stimulation as well as single-channel conventional stimulation. The results indicate that asynchronous stimulation extends the duration that functional movements can be performed during feedback control. This result is promising for the implementation of asynchronous stimulation in closed-loop rehabilitative procedures and in assistive devices as a method to reduce muscle fatigue while maintaining a person's ability to track a desired limb trajectory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7097701
Pages (from-to)1117-1127
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Fatigue
  • Muscles
  • Stability analysis
  • Switches
  • Torque
  • Trajectory

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