Reporting for Duty: The duty cycle in Functional Electrical Stimulation research. Part I: Critical commentaries of the literature

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Matthew J. Taylor *
Ché Fornusek
Andrew J. Ruys
(*) Corresponding Author:
Matthew J. Taylor |


There are several parameters that can be modulated during electrical stimulation-induced muscle contraction to obtain external work, i.e., Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). The literature has several reports of the relationships of parameters such as frequency, pulse width, amplitude and physiological or biomechanical outcomes (i.e., torque) when these parameters are changed. While these relationships are well-described, lesser known across the literature is how changing the duty cycle (time ON and time OFF) of stimulation affects the outcomes. This review provides an analysis of the literature pertaining to the duty cycle in electrical stimulation experiments. There are two distinct sections of this review – an introduction to the duty cycle and definitions from literature (part I); and contentions from the literature and proposed frameworks upon which duty cycle can be interpreted (part II). It is envisaged that the two reviews will highlight the importance of modulating the duty cycle in terms of muscle fatigue in mimicking physiological activities. The frameworks provided will ideally assist in unifying how researchers consider the duty cycle in electrical stimulation (ES) of muscles.

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