The possibility of initiating an involuntary walking rhythm in a suspended human leg by electrical stimulation was studied. The subjects lay on the side with one leg suspended in an exoskeleton allowing horizontal rotation in three joints: the hip, knee, and ankle ones. To evoke involuntary walking of the suspended leg, two methods were used: continuous vibration of the quadriceps muscle of the hip and electrical stimulation of the cutaneous nerves innervating the foot of the immobile leg. The hip and ankle were involved in the involuntary movements, with reciprocal bursts of electromyographic activity being also observed in the antagonistic muscles of the hip. The application of an external load (4 N or 8 N) to the foot caused a perceptible intensification of its movements. An additional weight (0.5 kg) or a rubber band wrapped around the foot caused no substantial change in the pattern of stimulated walking. Electrical stimulation is an effective means of activating walking movements, and their characteristics confirm the assumption that the walking rhythm is of central origin. Additional afferentation from the sole's receptors plays an important role in the modulation of the induced movements and the modification of the general walking pattern under the conditions of muscle unloading.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)