Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is the triggering of muscle contraction by use of an electrical current. It can be used to give paralyzed individuals several health benefits, through allowing artificial movement and exercise. Although many FES devices exist, many aspects require innovation to increase usability and home translation. In addition, the effect of changing electrical parameters on limb biomechanics is not entirely understood; in particular with regards to stimulation duty cycle.
This thesis has two distinct components. In the first (public health component), interview studies were conducted to understand several issues related to FES technology enhancement, implementation and home translation. In the second (computational biomechanics component), novel signal processing algorithms were designed that can be used to measure mechanical responses of muscles subjected to electrical stimulation. These experiments were performed by changing duty cycle and measuring its effect on quadriceps-generated knee torque. The studies of this thesis have presented several ideas, toolkits and results which have the potential to guide future FES biomechanics studies and the translatability of systems into regular usage for patients. The public health studies have provided conceptual frameworks upon which FES may be used in the home by patients. In addition, they have elucidated a range of issues that need to be addressed should FES technology reach its true potential as a therapy. The computational biomechanics studies have put forward novel data analysis techniques which may be used for understanding how muscle responds to electrical stimulation, as measured via torque. Furthermore, the effect of changing the electrical stimulation duty cycle on torque was successfully described, adding to an understanding of how electrical stimulation parameter modulation can influence joint biomechanics.