FES / Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race
About the Team
A bike that makes it possible for paraplegics to go on bike tours, this is the goal of Kenneth Hunt and his team at Bern University of Applied Sciences. Hunt has been researching in the field of rehabilitation technology for over 20 years. "We want a bike that is easy to use and inexpensive, as well as a stimulation system so the user can cycle for several hours," explains the Briton.
In 2016 his team, still under the name IRPT/SPZ with pilot Julien Jouffroy, took part in the 1st edition of CYBATHLON without expectations, the bronze medal was a surprise. In CYBATHLON 2020 Global Edition, the BFH team was among the medal candidates, because the pilot has evolved physically and the researchers have developed the technology further: "In the stimulation process, we split the electrodes into smaller parts, which can thus be controlled at a lower frequency. This theoretically increases performance and reduces muscle fatigue. “Our trike now has an automatic transmission, custom-made pedal orthosis and the center of gravity is very low, which makes it particularly stable," Hunt enumerates. But the most important factor is the pilot and his training level. "Julien's preparation and our long experience give us a clear advantage," he is convinced.
About the Pilot
Eight years ago, Julien Jouffroy had a traffic accident and has been paralyzed ever since. Driving a bicycle with his legs seemed utopian. But in the year of his accident, he pedaled on a Trike for the first time. A recumbent bike adapted to him in combination with functional electrical muscle stimulation made it possible. "Cycling brings me great health benefits and I can move around outdoors without a wheelchair," the Frenchman states. "I would like to be able to use the bike in everyday life as well. But currently I cannot ride it without help and the performance is too low for longer distances.
In 2016, Julien won the bronze medal with Team BFH (then called IRTP/SPZ), in the bike race with electro-muscle stimulation. Julien likes the competition: "I like to compete with the other teams but sharing with them means just as much to me." For two years Julien has been training daily for the CYBATHLON. And as his muscles grow, his recumbent trike is also getting better and better.