Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is a technology for restoring body functions through artificial electrical stimulation of the neuromuscular system.
Specifically, this technology can support the restoration of mobility in paralyzed individuals. For electrical stimulation to cause a muscle to contract, both the muscle and the nerve that connects it to the spinal cord must be intact. When a peripheral nerve is damaged, the distal part, i.e. the part furthest from the spinal cord, will degenerate and will not be excitable by electrical stimulation.
The most common use of FES is for people with drop foot. In simple terms, FES works like this to help with drop foot:
- Our Odstock Dropped Foot Stimulator (ODFS®) sends signals to the self-adhesive electrodes that are placed on the skin over the nerves
- The stimulator creates small electrical pulses. This causes the muscles in your leg to contract and moves your joints.
- A small footswitch in your shoe times the stimulation to your walking.
Sadly, there's an increasing number of patients for whom rehabilitation has become a priority, and those who can benefit from FES based treatments form these further categories:
☑ Stroke patients (AVC) - first 6 months are crucial for recovery
☑ Multiple sclerosis patients (SM) - improves muscles tone
☑ Parkinson patients - walking is significantly improved
☑ Paralyzed patients
☑ Spinal cord injury, T12 and above (SCI) patients
☑ Cerebral palsy (CP) patients
☑ Head injury (HI) suffering patients
☑ Familial or hereditary spastic paraparesis (F or HSP) patients
☑ Other conditions affecting the spinal cord or brain
Functional Electrical Stimulation is increasingly used in neurological rehabilitation to improve mobility and upper limb function (also in shoulder subluxation cases). The most common use is for the correction of dropped foot in hemiplegic gait, an intervention now recommended by the Royal College of Physicians in their publication "National clinical guidelines on stroke" (NICE278, UK).
Therapeutic benefits of Functinal Electrical Stimulation are:
☑ Strengthening weak or paralyzed muscle
☑ Reducing spasticity
☑ Improving local blood circulation and skin health.