Brain-controlled muscle stimulation for the restoration of motor function

Christian Ethier, Lee E. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Loss of the ability to move, as a consequence of spinal cord injury or neuromuscular disorder, has devastating consequences for the paralyzed individual, and great economic consequences for society. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) offers one means to restore some mobility to these individuals, improving not only their autonomy, but potentially their general health and well-being as well. FES uses electrical stimulation to cause the paralyzed muscles to contract. Existing clinical systems require the stimulation to be preprogrammed, with the patient typically using residual voluntary movement of another body part to trigger and control the patterned stimulation. The rapid development of neural interfacing in the past decade offers the promise of dramatically improved control for these patients, potentially allowing continuous control of FES through signals recorded from motor cortex, as the patient attempts to control the paralyzed body part. While application of these 'brain-machine interfaces' (BMIs) has undergone dramatic development for control of computer cursors and even robotic limbs, their use as an interface for FES has been much more limited. In this review, we consider both FES and BMI technologies and discuss the prospect for combining the two to provide important new options for paralyzed individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-190
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Brain-machine interface
  • Functional electrical stimulation
  • Motor cortex
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Brain-controlled muscle stimulation for the restoration of motor function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this