Preliminary evaluation of a controlled-brake orthosis for FES-aided gait

Michael Goldfarb, Kurt Korkowski, Brent Harrold, William Durfee

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A hybrid functional-electrical stimulation (FES) gait system that incorporates a computer-controlled orthosis system has been developed to address the problems of rapid muscle fatigue and poor movement control that are characteristic of FES-aided gait. The orthosis is a long-leg brace that contains controllable friction brakes at both hip and knee joints. The system achieves desirable limb trajectories by utilizing the stimulated muscles as a source of unregulated power and regulating the power at each joint by computer control of the friction brakes. Muscle fatigue is reduced by locking the controllable brakes to provide the isometric joint torques necessary during stance. The hybrid gait system was evaluated and compared to conventional four channel FES-aided gait using four subjects with paraplegia. The results demonstrated significant reduction in muscle fatigue and improvement in trajectory control when using the orthosis combined with FES compared to using FES alone. Results for distance and speed improvements varied across subjects. Considerable work remains in the design of the hardware before the system is feasible for use outside the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received September 29, 1999; revised February 26, 2001. This work was supported by the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, Department of Veterans Affairs under Grant B579-2RC. M. Goldfarb is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235 USA. K. Korkowski is with Seagate Corporation, Shakopee, MN 55379 USA. B. Harrold is with AP Engineering, St. Paul, MN 55125 USA. W. Durfee is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA (e-mail: Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TNSRE.2003.816873


  • Assistive technology
  • Functional-electrical stimulation (FES)
  • Hybrid orthosis


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