FES / Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike Race
About the Team
"We have noticed that the pilots have great fun riding our bikes and benefit from it. Their joy and their sense of community increases strongly, if they ride outdoors and they report on various health advantages." says team manager Ronald Tirolo. Team Cleveland uses surgically implanted intramuscular electrodes instead of stimulation through the skin surface like most other teams. "Through the implant, the nerve can be activated directly, and the muscles can be controlled more precisely. Since 2016, we have been developing the bike so that ten pilots can now ride it at home or outdoors," Ronald explains.
The technology was originally developed 1996 for paraplegics to help them stand up and walk a few steps. Later they adapted it for FES cycling. At CYBATHLON 2016 they demonstrated the advantage with the impressive performance of pilot Mark Muhn and won the race.
Pilot - Mark Steven Muhn
"I’m the oldest pilot by far, I already was in 2016. But I’m very competitive and I know I can win again.” Mark Muhn is looking forward to CYBATHLON 2020: “The event is great, I am grateful for the platform that is being built for us, appreciate to see how much the pilots, teams and organizers are investing to make this possible and give everything to improve life for disabled people – maybe not directly for us but for the generations to come.”
Together with his wife, Mark has raised ten children. In 2008 he had been skiing powder and crashed so badly he was instantly paralyzed. For FES cycling Mark is using implanted, intramuscular electrodes. “FES cycling was my preferred activity as a paraplegic. But I struggled for a long time to accept the electrodes as a part of me. I eventually did after I had started to meditate. The team has become my second family,” Mark describes the distance he went since 2012 when he started working with the scientists of Case Western University in Cleveland. “In the future, I believe there is a great potential in connecting our system to an exoskeleton, which could be a big breakthrough in the next few years." Mark is looking ahead.