This article reports the use of electrical stimulation to provide paraplegic patients with complete lesions of the spinal cord the ability to rise from sitting to standing, to maintain a standing position, and to walk with a reciprocal gait. Four channels of electrical stimulation are sufficient for synthesis of a simple reciprocal gait pattern in these patients. During the double-stance phase, knee extensor muscles of both knees are stimulated, providing sufficient support for the body. Only one knee extensor muscle group is excited during the single-stance phase. The swing phase of the contralateral lower extremity is accomplished by eliciting the synergistic flexor muscle response through electrical stimulation of afferent nerves. The transition from the double-stance phase to the swing phase is controlled by two hand switches used by the therapist or built into the handles of the walking frame or crutches for use by the patient.
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