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A two-step model to optimise transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the human upper arm

Michela Goffredo (Department of Engineering, University Roma Tre, Rome, Italy)
Maurizio Schmid (Department of Engineering, University Roma Tre, Rome, Italy)
Silvia Conforto (Department of Engineering, University Roma Tre, Rome, Italy)
Filiberto Bilotti (Department of Engineering, University Roma Tre, Rome, Italy)
Claudio Palma (Department of Engineering, University Roma Tre, Rome, Italy)
Lucio Vegni (Department of Engineering, University Roma Tre, Rome, Italy)
Tommaso D’Alessio (Department of Engineering, University Roma Tre, Rome, Italy)

Abstract

Purpose

A novel model of the upper arm under transcutaneous electrical stimulation with multi-pad electrodes is presented and experimentally validated. The model aims at simulating and analysing the effects of surface electrical stimulation on biceps brachii. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Both the passive properties of tissues surrounding nerve bundles and the active characteristics of the nervous system are included. The output of the proposed model is nerve recruitment and muscle contraction.

Findings

Simulations and experimental tests on six healthy young adults have been conducted and results show that the proposed model gives information on electrically elicited muscle contraction in accordance with in-vivo tests and literature on motor unit recruitment order. Tests with different electrodes configurations show that the spatial distribution of active electrodes is a critical factor in electrically elicited muscle contractions, and that multi-pad electrodes can optimise the stimulation effectiveness and patient comfort with sequences of biphasic pulses of 350 μs at 30 pulses/s and threshold values of 2 mA.

Originality/value

Results encourage the use of the proposed model of the upper arm as a valid and viable solution for predicting the behaviour of the neuromuscular system when surface electrical stimulation is applied, thus optimising the design of neuroprosthetics.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the Commission of UE, which funded this research through grant ICT-2007-224051 TREMOR “An ambulatory BCI-driven tremor suppression system based on functional electrical stimulation”.

Citation

Goffredo, M., Schmid, M., Conforto, S., Bilotti, F., Palma, C., Vegni, L. and D’Alessio, T. (2014), "A two-step model to optimise transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the human upper arm", COMPEL - The international journal for computation and mathematics in electrical and electronic engineering, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 1329-1345. https://doi.org/10.1108/COMPEL-04-2013-0118

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited