Standing-up exerciser based on functional electrical stimulation and body weight relief

M. Ferrarin, E. E. Pavan, R. Spadone, R. Cardini, C. Frigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of the present work was to develop and test an innovative system for the training of paraplegic patients when they are standing up. The system consisted of a computer-controlled stimulator, surface electrodes for quadricep muscle stimulation, two knee angle sensors, a digital proportional-integrative-derivative (PID) controller and a mechanical device to support, partially, the body weight (weight reliever (WR)). A biomechanical model of the combined WR and patient was developed to find an optimum reference trajectory for the PID controller. The system was tested on three paraplegic patients and was shown to be reliable and safe. One patient completed a 30-session training period. Initially he was able to stand up only with 62% body weight relief, whereas, after the training period, he performed a series of 30 standing-up/sitting-down cycles with 45% body weight relief. The closed-loop controller was able to keep the patient standing upright with minimum stimulation current, to compensate automatically for muscle fatigue and to smooth the sitting-down movement. The limitations of the controller in connection with a highly non-linear system are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Body weight relief
  • Close-loop control
  • Functional electrical stimulation (FES)
  • Paraplegia
  • PID control
  • Standing up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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