Wired for Walking

Functional Electrical Stimulation

Ian Bennett of the UK HSP group has kindly provided some information on Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) can improve the walking of patients. It involves the use of small electrical impulses to activate paralysed muscles and so produce useful movement. The electrical impulses work by exciting the nerves leading to the muscles. Self adhesive patches (electrodes) are usually placed on the skin close to the nerve supplying the muscle. Leads connect the electrodes to a stimulator that produces the impulses. A common problem with HSP is an inability to lift the foot and toes when swinging the leg during walking, causing the toes to drag on the ground. To improve this activity, stimulation can be applied to the muscles at the front of the legs, activating the muscles that lift the foot during walking.

Ian goes on to say, “FES has already been utilised amongst a number of our members, and proven to be beneficial in enabling us to walk faster with less effort, and perhaps most significantly, less tripping. I have been a user for over six years and it’s been a big plus for me. However it seems suitable for only about 1 in 5 HSPers.”

Learn more about FES.