Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2009

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Richard A. Foulds

Second Advisor

Sergei Adamovich

Third Advisor

Bruno A. Mantilla


Those people who have spinal cord injuries (SCI) must remain in wheelchairs due to disruption of the neural signaling to their muscles. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) has proved itself to be an option for restoring some motion and some walking for the patient. Electrodes can either be placed on the skin or muscle to provide an electrical impulse that stimulates the muscles into contraction. Current systems provide buttons that use set functions for left and right steps with constant direction and size. It is desired however that the user be allowed a more natural and variable control method of controlling their stepping motion. Finger walking control provides an intuitive method of using just the fingertip positions to provide all the data necessary to allow for walking.

This thesis first addressed the use of the JACK modeling software by UGS, which did not provide the programming flexibility needed for real time walking control of the model with inverse kinematics, plus had few options to help keep stability of the model. A Flock of Birds motion capture system in conjunction with a VRML model provided much better control of a leg model in the sagittal plane. The foot position and angle were also very close to the actual foot trajectory, which was able to successfully drive the hip, knee, and ankle angles through inverse kinematics. This is an important step to one day have the control the FES stimulation of an SCI patient using just the patient's index and middle fingers with a portable stimulation device, a small computer and either a walker or portable harness system.



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