The application of estimation and control techniques in 2 modes of exercise for the spinal cord injured.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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A spinal cord injury (SCI) can result in a loss of sensory and motor capacity, dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system and also in a number of secondary health conditions including muscular atrophy, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
The impact of these secondary health conditions may be reduced through exercise which loads the muscles, skeleton and central cardiovascular system. A number of new exercise methods are emerging in the field of rehabilitation.
Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a technique for inducing artificial muscular contractions that has been applied to facilitate cycling amongst adults with a spinal cord injury. Preliminary data has demonstrated the feasibility of FES cycling in the paediatric SCI population. The use of an electric motor to provide torque
assistance where required allows the exercise to continue for longer periods and over a wider range of cadences. In this thesis, a feedback control system is devised whereby the cadence can be automatically controlled to reference levels using such a motor, and tested during FES cycling of children with an SCI.
The use of robot-assisted body weight supported devices is gaining popularity in the rehabilitation world. Their application has thus far been focused on rehabilitation of gait via neural re-learning. However, robot-assisted gait can also elicit a significant cardiovascular response and thus has potential as a tool for exercise training and testing. In this thesis, a method for estimating the work rate contributed by an exercising subject is developed and then incorporated into a feedback control scheme where the objective is to regulate the work rate to reference values. This enables specific work rate profiles to be performed during robot-assisted gait as is often required for standard exercise tests and training.
In addition to controlling the mechanical variables during exercise, it is also possible to control some of the physiological variables. A feedback system whose goal is to control the rate of oxygen uptake rate is developed which also incorporates the work rate control method. This allows a predetermined level of physiological response
to be achieved so that the training is of sufficient intensity to promote improvements in physical capacity and fitness.
This thesis examines the application of estimation and control techniques in two exercise modes for the spinal cord injured. The ultimate aim of the exercise is to reduce the severity of the secondary health conditions that spinal cord injured people face. The estimation and control algorithms allow the exercise to be regulated with respect to speed and intensity and therefore have utility in both training and testing applications.
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