Investigation of different stimulation patterns with doublet pulses to reduce muscle fatigue

Ruslee, R., Miller, J. and Gollee, H. (2019) Investigation of different stimulation patterns with doublet pulses to reduce muscle fatigue. Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering, 6, pp. 1-10. (doi: 10.1177/2055668319825808)

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Introduction: Functional electrical stimulation is a common technique used in the rehabilitation of individuals with a spinal cord injury to produce functional movement of paralysed muscles. However, it is often associated with rapid muscle fatigue which limits its applications. Methods: The objective of this study is to investigate the effects on the onset of fatigue of different multi-electrode patterns of stimulation via multiple pairs of electrodes using doublet pulses: Synchronous stimulation is compared to asynchronous stimulation patterns which are activated sequentially (AsynS) or randomly (AsynR), mimicking voluntary muscle activation by targeting different motor units. We investigated these three different approaches by applying stimulation to the gastrocnemius muscle repeatedly for 10 min (300 ms stimulation followed by 700 ms of no-stimulation) with 40 Hz effective frequency for all protocols and doublet pulses with an inter-pulse-interval of 6 ms. Eleven able-bodied volunteers (28 ± 3 years old) participated in this study. Ultrasound videos were recorded during stimulation to allow evaluation of changes in muscle morphology. The main fatigue indicators we focused on were the normalised fatigue index, fatigue time interval and pre-post twitch–tetanus ratio. Results: The results demonstrate that asynchronous stimulation with doublet pulses gives a higher normalised fatigue index (0.80 ± 0.08 and 0.87 ± 0.08) for AsynS and AsynR, respectively, than synchronous stimulation (0.62 ± 0.06). Furthermore, a longer fatigue time interval for AsynS (302.2 ± 230.9 s) and AsynR (384.4 ± 279.0 s) compared to synchronous stimulation (68.0 ± 30.5 s) indicates that fatigue occurs later during asynchronous stimulation; however, this was only found to be statistically significant for one of two methods used to calculate the group mean. Although no significant difference was found in pre-post twitch–tetanus ratio, there was a trend towards these effects. Conclusion: In this study, we proposed an asynchronous stimulation pattern for the application of functional electrical stimulation and investigated its suitability for reducing muscle fatigue compared to previous methods. The results show that asynchronous multi-electrode stimulation patterns with doublet pulses may improve fatigue resistance in functional electrical stimulation applications in some conditions.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:R Ruslee was supported by a Malaysian Government scholarship (Majlis Amanah Rakyat MARA). J Miller was supported by an EPSRC DTA scholarship.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gollee, Dr Henrik and Miller, Jennifer and Ruslee, Ruslinda Binti
Authors: Ruslee, R., Miller, J., and Gollee, H.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Biomedical Engineering
Journal Name:Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):2055-6683
Published Online:22 March 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering 6: 1-10
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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