FES control of isometric forces in the rat hindlimb using many muscles

Anthony M. Jarc*, Max Berniker, Matthew C. Tresch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Functional electrical stimulation (FES) attempts to restore motor behaviors to paralyzed limbs by electrically stimulating nerves and/or muscles. This restoration of behavior requires specifying commands to a large number of muscles, each making an independent contribution to the ongoing behavior. Efforts to develop FES systems in humans have generally been limited to preprogrammed, fixed muscle activation patterns. The development and evaluation of more sophisticated FES control strategies is difficult to accomplish in humans, mainly because of the limited access of patients for FES experiments. Here, we developed an in vivo FES test platform using a rat model that is capable of using many muscles for control and that can therefore be used to evaluate potential strategies for developing flexible FES control strategies. We first validated this FES test platform by showing consistent force responses to repeated stimulation, monotonically increasing muscle recruitment with constant force directions, and linear summation of costimulated muscles. These results demonstrate that we are able to differentially control the activation of many muscles, despite the small size of the rat hindlimb. We then demonstrate the utility of this platform to test potential FES control strategies, using it to test our ability to effectively produce open-loop control of isometric forces. We show that we are able to use this preparation to produce a range of endpoint forces flexibly and with good accuracy. We suggest that this platform will aid in FES controller design, development, and evaluation, thus accelerating the development of effective FES applications for the restoration of movement in paralyzed patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6401176
Pages (from-to)1422-1430
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Functional electrical stimulation (FES)
  • isometric force
  • muscle stimulation
  • rat hindlimb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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