Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

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

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Richard A. Foulds

Second Advisor

Stanley S. Reisman

Third Advisor

Sergei Adamovich

Abstract

Spinal cord injuries are extremely debilitating, often leaving the injured person without the ability to use their legs (paraplegia) and sometimes, without the ability to use their arms and legs (tetraplegia or quadriplegia). Currently, primitive forms of feed-forward functional electrical stimulation (FES) and special orthotics are available for persons with paraplegia. However, these forms of FES do not allow the individual to actually control their movements on a real-time basis, nor do they offer the ability for the injured person to sense the ground on which they stand.

It is the goal of the researchers at the Neuromuscular Engineering Laboratory, at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, to improve the quality of life of a paraplegic patient by restoring his/her ability to control their own leg movements with gait-mimicking finger movements. Should such movements prove to effectively mimic gait, it may be possible to develop a haptic walking system to control the user's leg muscles while providing the user control of and feedback from their legs in real-time.

This research investigated the gait cycle timing, trajectory, and ground reaction forces of finger movements as they mimic normal human gait and exposed considerable similarities. This implies there can be an effective substitution of neural commands to the legs with finger movement and sensation.

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