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Brain-computer interface controlled functional electrical stimulation device for foot drop due to stroke.

  • Author(s): Do, An H;
  • Wang, Po T;
  • King, Christine E;
  • Schombs, Andrew;
  • Cramer, Steven C;
  • Nenadic, Zoran
  • et al.

Gait impairment due to foot drop is a common outcome of stroke, and current physiotherapy provides only limited restoration of gait function. Gait function can also be aided by orthoses, but these devices may be cumbersome and their benefits disappear upon removal. Hence, new neuro-rehabilitative therapies are being sought to generate permanent improvements in motor function beyond those of conventional physiotherapies through positive neural plasticity processes. Here, the authors describe an electroencephalogram (EEG) based brain-computer interface (BCI) controlled functional electrical stimulation (FES) system that enabled a stroke subject with foot drop to re-establish foot dorsiflexion. To this end, a prediction model was generated from EEG data collected as the subject alternated between periods of idling and attempted foot dorsiflexion. This prediction model was then used to classify online EEG data into either "idling" or "dorsiflexion" states, and this information was subsequently used to control an FES device to elicit effective foot dorsiflexion. The performance of the system was assessed in online sessions, where the subject was prompted by a computer to alternate between periods of idling and dorsiflexion. The subject demonstrated purposeful operation of the BCI-FES system, with an average cross-correlation between instructional cues and BCI-FES response of 0.60 over 3 sessions. In addition, analysis of the prediction model indicated that non-classical brain areas were activated in the process, suggesting post-stroke cortical re-organization. In the future, these systems may be explored as a potential therapeutic tool that can help promote positive plasticity and neural repair in chronic stroke patients.

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