Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a means of restoring gait to individuals with spinal cord injury, but the performance of most FES-aided gait systems is hampered by the rapid muscle fatigue which results from stimulated muscle contraction and the inadequate control of joint torques necessary to produce desired limb trajectories. The controlled-brake orthosis (CBO) addresses these limitations by utilizing FES in combination with a long-leg brace that contains controllable friction brakes at the knees and hips. A laboratory version of the CBO utilizing computer-controlled magnetic particle brakes at the joints was designed and constructed, and preliminary results with a single spinal cord injury (SCI) subject have demonstrated reduced fatigue and more repeatable gait trajectories when compared to FES-aided gait without the brace. Significant work remains to demonstrate the efficacy of the concept across a wide range of SCI subjects and to design a system which meets appropriate user requirements of size, weight, cosmesis, ease of use and cost. The primary purpose of the paper is to detail the design of the CBO.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Manuscript received March 31, 1994; revised August 24, 1995. This work was supported by the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Study B579-2RC. The work was conducted in the Eric P. and Evelyn E. Newman Laboratory for Biomechanics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the VA Medical Center, West Roxbury, MA. M. Goldfarb is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235 USA. W. K. Durfee is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN 55455 USA. Publisher Item Identifier S 1063-6528(96)02088-5.