This article introduces a novel approach for a functional electrical stimulation (FES) controller intended for FES-induced cycling based on inertial measurement units (IMUs). This study aims at simplifying the design of electrical stimulation timing patterns while providing a method that can be adapted to different users and devices. In most of studies and commercial devices, the crank angle is used as an input to trigger stimulation onset. We propose instead to use thigh inclination as the reference information to build stimulation timing patterns. The tilting angles of both thighs are estimated from one inertial sensor located above each knee. An IF–THEN rule algorithm detects, online and automatically, the thigh peak angles in order to start and stop the stimulation of quadriceps muscles, depending on these events. One participant with complete paraplegia was included and was able to propel a recumbent trike using the proposed approach after a very short setting time. This new modality opens the way for a simpler and user-friendly method to automatically design FES-induced cycling stimulation patterns, adapted to clinical use, for multiple bike geometries and user morphologies.
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