Modeling Open-Loop Stability of a Human Arm Driven by a Functional Electrical Stimulation Neuroprosthesis

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC)


Functional electrical stimulation (FES) can be used to restore movement control following paralysis. For complex multijoint systems, it is becoming increasingly apparent that closed-loop controllers are needed. Designing a closed-loop control system is easiest when the open-loop system is stable. In this study we developed a computational model to assess the open-loop stability of FES-control systems. We used the model to examine the open-loop stability of the human arm throughout its reachable workspace. For each simulated position of the hand we examined the stability of the arm, assuming that a minimal pattern of muscle activation was used to support the arm against gravity. Only muscles available to an existing FES user were considered. We found that with this reduced muscle set, the stability of the arm was severely compromised. We also demonstrated that muscle co-contraction can be an effective method to improve the stability for many postures.


This work is supported by NSF grant 0932263.