Facial muscle activations by functional electrical stimulation

Mirja Ilves, Jani Lylykangas, Ville Rantanen, Eeva Mäkelä, Antti Vehkaoja, Jarmo Verho, Jukka Lekkala, Markus Rautiainen, Veikko Surakka

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The present aim was to investigate transcutaneous facial muscle stimulation in order to take further steps in developing facial pacing technology, which can offer a new treatment option for patients with unilateral facial paralysis. This technology ultimately measures muscle activations from one side of the face and simultaneously activates the corresponding muscles of the other side with electrical stimulation. Four facial muscle locations—frontalis, orbicularis oculi, zygomaticus major, and orbicularis oris—of the healthy participants (N = 24) were stimulated to produce an eyebrow raise, eye blink, smile, and lip pucker, respectively. The results showed that a visually observable movement of the forehead and the lower lip was achieved in all participants. On average, the stimulations at the movement threshold were rated as tolerable in terms of pain ratings and neutral in terms of pleasantness ratings. Complete eye blink was achieved in 22 participants, and most did not experience painful sensations. The stimulation of the cheek evoked observable movement in 23 participants, but the stimulation also often resulted in concurrent activation of the eye, mouth, and nose area. The results suggest that transcutaneous stimulation seems to be a promising method for developing further facial pacing technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-254
Number of pages7
JournalBiomedical Signal Processing and Control
Issue numberFebruary 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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