Practical low cost stand/sit system for mid-thoracic paraplegics.
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Authors: Ewins, D.J., Taylor, P.N., Crook, S.E., Lipczynski, R.T. and Swain, I.D.
Journal: J Biomed Eng
The use of functional electrical stimulation (FES) to enable paraplegics to stand is not new or indeed difficult to undertake under laboratory conditions. However, there are substantial problems to overcome before such systems can be used routinely by patients without professional supervision. The overriding consideration has to be one of safety, i.e. the system must be 'fail safe'. Secondly, the system must be quick and easy to use in a wide variety of locations, otherwise it will not provide any increase in function. Finally, it must be inexpensive enough to be available to a large number of paraplegics. The primary aim of our work was to provide such a system to enable mid-thoracic lesion paraplegics to stand wherever they wish. This involved the development of a microprocessor-based stimulator to enable the stimulating envelope to be individually tailored to a given patient's requirements and the provision of closed loop control to minimize fatigue. A folding standing frame was also designed which replaces the arm rests on a standard wheelchair. Using this system, the user is able to stand within 30 s of stopping and can remain standing for up to 10 min. Cosmetic calipers (knee-ankle-foot orthoses) are also being used for paraplegics who require to stand for longer periods. It is hoped that such a system will provide stable standing for a large number of paraplegics at a unit cost of approximately 750 pound.