Evaluation of force-sensing resistors for gait event detection to trigger electrical stimulation to improve walking in the child with cerebral palsy

Brian T. Smith, Daniel J. Coiro, Richard Finson, Randal R. Betz, James McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Force-sensing resistors (FSRs) were used to detect the transitions between five main phases of gait for the control of electrical stimulation (ES) while walking with seven children with spastic diplegia, cerebral palsy. The FSR positions within each child's insoles were customized based on plantar pressure profiles determined using a pressure-sensitive membrane array (Tekscan Inc., Boston, MA). The FSRs were placed in the insoles so that pressure transitions coincided with an ipsilateral or contralateral gait event. The transitions between the following gait phases were determined: loading response, mid- and terminal stance, and pre- and initial swing. Following several months of walking on a regular basis with FSR-triggered intramuscular ES to the hip and knee extensors, hip abductors, and ankle dorsi and plantar flexors, the accuracy and reliability of the FSRs to detect gait phase transitions were evaluated. Accuracy was evaluated with four of the subjects by synchronizing the output of the FSR detection scheme with a VICON (Oxford Metrics, U.K.) motion analysis system, which was used as the gait event reference. While mean differences between each FSR-detected gait event and that of the standard (VICON) ranged from +35 ms (indicating that the FSR detection scheme recognized the event before it actually happened) to -55 ms (indicating that the FSR scheme recognized the event after it occurred), the difference data was widely distributed, which appeared to be due in part to both intrasubject (step-to-step) and intersubject variability. Terminal stance exhibited the largest mean difference and standard deviation, while initial swing exhibited the smallest deviation and preswing the smallest mean difference. To determine step-to-step reliability, all seven children walked on a level walkway for at least 50 steps. Of 642 steps, there were no detection errors in 94.5% of the steps. Of the steps that contained a detection error, 80% were due to the failure of the FSR signal to reach the programmed threshold level during the transition to loading response. Recovery from an error always occurred one to three steps later.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Children
  • Foot switches
  • Functional electrical stimulation
  • Gait


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