In this research, we describe a new balancing device used to stabilize the rear quarters of a patient dog with spinal cord injuries. Our approach uses inertial measurement sensing and direct leg actuation to lay a foundation for eventual muscle control by means of direct functional electrical stimulation (FES). During this phase of development, we designed and built a mechanical test-bed to develop the control and stimulation algorithms before we use the device on our animal subjects. We designed the bionic test-bed to mimic the typical walking gait of a dog and use it to develop and test the functionality of the balancing device for stabilization of patient dogs with hindquarter paralysis. We present analysis for various muscle stimulation and balancing strategies, and our device can be used by veterinarians to tailor the stimulation strength and temporal distribution for any individual patient dog. We develop stabilizing muscle stimulation strategies using the robotic test-bed to enhance walking stability. We present experimental results using the bionic test-bed to demonstrate that the balancing device can provide an effective sensing strategy and deliver the required motion control commands for stabilizing an actual dog with a spinal cord injury.
Keywords: balancing device; bionic test-bed; functional electrical stimulation; spinal cord injuries.