Functional Electrical Stimulation and Gait

At 8 months post injury, Mr. Rajah’s physiotherapist (PT) wonders if functional electrical stimulation would be helpful in improving his gait. Mr. Rajah has limited financial resources, and reports he would be unable to obtain the equipment for use of FES for gait at home. The PT can refer Mr. Rajah to a regional centre close by with FES equipment that can be used for therapeutic activities. However, the PT wonders if it is worth using FES during therapy, even though Mr. Rajah will be unable to use FES at home.
What evidence is there for FES in improving gait post-SCI?
1. FES-assisted walking (figure 4) can enable walking or enhance walking speed in incomplete SCI or complete (T4-T11) SCI. However tests of FES-assisted walking have only been tried in a few centres worldwide.
2. Regular use of FES in gait training or activities of daily living may lead to improvement in walking even when the stimulator is not in use.

For more information please see: Functional Electrical Stimulation and Gait Post SCI.


Figure 4. Electrical stimulation of the lower limb.