Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race

Introduction

Pilots with complete Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) are equipped with Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) devices, which enable them to perform a pedaling movement on a cycling device. They ride along a circular race track of 1000 m. The pilots build up their muscles by specialized FES training regimes prior to the race. During the race, besides strength, the temporal apportionment of strength also plays a crucial role to minimize muscle fatigue effects. Any stimulation pattern can be applied at any leg muscle, as long as the stimulation technology and pattern are safe. In the race, two pilots start at the same time on a circular race track, but with a 180° phase shift on the race track. In case of a high number of applications, we will consider a start with 4 pilots (two at each side of the course).

Technical drawings of the Race Course and the Starting Ramp:

FES_course

FES_course

A more detailed curse description and the complete set of rules can be found here. Interested in participating? Information about registration can be found under “For Pilots and Teams”.

Inclusion Criteria for the Pilots

In addition to the general inclusion criteria, participating pilots must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Spinal cord injured pilots who have a thoracic or lumbar lesion which leads to leg paralysis are included. Most competitors are expected to be in the category of mid-thoracic paraplegia.
  • ASIA A or B, with a complete loss of motor function (http://www.sci-info-pages.com/levels.html).
  • The lower motor neuron has to be intact, thus, the lesion must be spastic (rather than atonic).
  • Pilots must have sufficient voluntary control of their trunk, arms, and neck in order to steer the bike and stabilize the upper body while riding down a starting ramp and turning curves.

Inclusion Criteria for the Technology

In addition to the general rules, the following criteria apply for the FES bike technology:

  • Only passive cycling devices without actuation are allowed. The only actuation is provided through the FES-stimulated legs of the pilot. Arms must not be used to support the propulsion, but for steering only.
  • The FES stimulator can be commercially available or custom-made. If it is custom-made, it has to fulfill the standard rules for electrical safety, including the latest IEC standards 60601-1 and 60601-2-10 (or similar rules applied in other countries), which describe particular requirements for the basic safety and essential performance of transcutaneous nerve and muscle stimulators.
  • Any control strategy or stimulation pattern is allowed to be used for stimulating lower extremity muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal, and calf muscle groups. It is not necessary to stimulate all these muscles.
  • FES stimulation intensity can be adjusted by the cycling athletes during the race so that they can apply their own strategy to minimize muscle fatigue effects.
  • Surface and implanted stimulation technologies are allowed. The implantations must be medically stable for at least six months and free of complications (e.g. infections) prior to the competition.
  • Any number of stimulation channels is allowed.
  • The FES stimulators can apply closed-loop control strategies using sensors applied to the pilots or the bike.
  • The cycling device structure and functioning is allowed to be optimized for better mechanical efficiency.
  • Any number and any size of wheels are allowed.
  • Maximum width of the cycling device is limited to 900 mm to enable proper use on the ramps and in the lanes.

The complete set of rules including the specific rules for the different disciplines can be found here.

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