Method to Reduce Muscle Fatigue during Transcutaneous Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation in Major Knee and Ankle Muscle Groups

Dimitry G. Sayenko, Robert Nguyen, Tomoyo Hirabayashi, Milos R. Popovic, Kei Masani

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Scopus citations


    Background. A critical limitation with transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation as a rehabilitative approach is the rapid onset of muscle fatigue during repeated contractions. We have developed a method called spatially distributed sequential stimulation (SDSS) to reduce muscle fatigue by distributing the center of electrical field over a wide area within a single stimulation site, using an array of surface electrodes. Objective. To extend the previous findings and to prove feasibility of the method by exploring the fatigue-reducing ability of SDSS for lower limb muscle groups in the able-bodied population, as well as in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Methods. SDSS was delivered through 4 active electrodes applied to the knee extensors and flexors, plantarflexors, and dorsiflexors, sending a stimulation pulse to each electrode one after another with 90° phase shift between successive electrodes. Isometric ankle torque was measured during fatiguing stimulations using SDSS and conventional single active electrode stimulation lasting 2 minutes. Results. We demonstrated greater fatigue-reducing ability of SDSS compared with the conventional protocol, as revealed by larger values of fatigue index and/or torque peak mean in all muscles except knee flexors of able-bodied individuals, and in all muscles tested in individuals with SCI. Conclusions. Our study has revealed improvements in fatigue tolerance during transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation using SDSS, a stimulation strategy that alternates activation of subcompartments of muscles. The SDSS protocol can provide greater stimulation times with less decrement in mechanical output compared with the conventional protocol.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)722-733
    Number of pages12
    JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Sep 27 2015


    • muscle fatigue
    • spinal cord injury
    • transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Rehabilitation
    • Neurology
    • Clinical Neurology


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