Measuring Torque Production with a Robotic Exoskeleton during Cervical Transcutaneous Spinal Stimulation

IEEE Int Conf Rehabil Robot. 2022 Jul:2022:1-5. doi: 10.1109/ICORR55369.2022.9896477.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects a large number of individuals in the United States. Unfortunately, traditional neurorehabilitation therapy leaves out clinical populations with limited motor function, such as severe stroke or spinal cord injury, as they are incapable of engaging in movement therapy. To increase the numbers of individuals who may be able to participate in robotic therapy, our long-term goal is to combine two validated interventions, transcutaneous spinal stimulation (TSS) and robotics, to elicit upper limb movements during rehabilitation following SCI. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to quantify the contributions of each intervention to realizing arm movements. Electromyography is typically used to assess the response to TSS, but the robot itself offers an additional source of data since the available sensors on the robot can be used to directly assess resultant actions of the upper limb after stimulation. We explore this approach in this paper. We showed that the effects of cutaneous TSS can be observed by measuring the holding torque required by the exoskeleton to keep a user's arm in a neutral position. Further, we can identify differences in resultant action based on the location of the stimulation electrodes with respect to the dorsal roots of the spinal cord. In the future, we can use measurements from the robot to guide the action of the robot and TSS intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exoskeleton Device*
  • Humans
  • Robotics* / methods
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / rehabilitation
  • Torque
  • Upper Extremity / physiology