Distributed stimulation increases force elicited with functional electrical stimulation

Alie J. Buckmire, Danielle R. Lockwood, Cynthia J. Doane, Andrew J. Fuglevand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective. The maximum muscle forces that can be evoked using functional electrical stimulation (FES) are relatively modest. The reason for this weakness is not fully understood but could be partly related to the widespread distribution of motor nerve branches within muscle. As such, a single stimulating electrode (as is conventionally used) may be incapable of activating the entire array of motor axons supplying a muscle. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine whether stimulating a muscle with more than one source of current could boost force above that achievable with a single source. Approach. We compared the maximum isometric forces that could be evoked in the anterior deltoid of anesthetized monkeys using one or two intramuscular electrodes. We also evaluated whether temporally interleaved stimulation between two electrodes might reduce fatigue during prolonged activity compared to synchronized stimulation through two electrodes. Main results. We found that dual electrode stimulation consistently produced greater force (∼50% greater on average) than maximal stimulation with single electrodes. No differences, however, were found in the fatigue responses using interleaved versus synchronized stimulation. Significance. It seems reasonable to consider using multi-electrode stimulation to augment the force-generating capacity of muscles and thereby increase the utility of FES systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number026001
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 16 2018


  • electrodes
  • fatigue
  • force
  • functional electrical stimulation
  • muscle
  • paralysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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