Brain-computer interface controlled functional electrical stimulation system for ankle movement.
Many neurological conditions, such as stroke, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury, can cause chronic gait function impairment due to foot-drop. Current physiotherapy techniques provide only a limited degree of motor function recovery in these individuals, and therefore novel therapies are needed. Brain-computer interface (BCI) is a relatively novel technology with a potential to restore, substitute, or augment lost motor behaviors in patients with neurological injuries. Here, we describe the first successful integration of a noninvasive electroencephalogram (EEG)-based BCI with a noninvasive functional electrical stimulation (FES) system that enables the direct brain control of foot dorsiflexion in able-bodied individuals.
A noninvasive EEG-based BCI system was integrated with a noninvasive FES system for foot dorsiflexion. Subjects underwent computer-cued epochs of repetitive foot dorsiflexion and idling while their EEG signals were recorded and stored for offline analysis. The analysis generated a prediction model that allowed EEG data to be analyzed and classified in real time during online BCI operation. The real-time online performance of the integrated BCI-FES system was tested in a group of five able-bodied subjects who used repetitive foot dorsiflexion to elicit BCI-FES mediated dorsiflexion of the contralateral foot.
Five able-bodied subjects performed 10 alternations of idling and repetitive foot dorsifiexion to trigger BCI-FES mediated dorsifiexion of the contralateral foot. The epochs of BCI-FES mediated foot dorsifiexion were highly correlated with the epochs of voluntary foot dorsifiexion (correlation coefficient ranged between 0.59 and 0.77) with latencies ranging from 1.4 sec to 3.1 sec. In addition, all subjects achieved a 100% BCI-FES response (no omissions), and one subject had a single false alarm.
This study suggests that the integration of a noninvasive BCI with a lower-extremity FES system is feasible. With additional modifications, the proposed BCI-FES system may offer a novel and effective therapy in the neuro-rehabilitation of individuals with lower extremity paralysis due to neurological injuries.