Functional Electrical Stimulation

What is Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)?

FES can be used to treat a range of conditions and may be able to offer you assistance. Do you sometimes catch your foot when walking, trip or fall? These are just a few of the common conditions which can be treated using FES.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a technique uses an electrical current to  cause a muscle to contract. The body naturally uses electrical currents to make muscles move, these devices can therefore help stimulate the muscles when this is not possible due to a neurological condition.

Electrical signals normally sent to through the nervous system may not function as well after a stroke. FES allows muscles which have been paralysed or partially paralysed to move again. As the muscles themselves are perfectly healthy and functional but the function to stimulate them has been impaired by the stroke.

A trained neurological physiotherapist uses FES to apply an electrical current to the skin over a nerve, bulk of a muscle, which causes muscle contraction.

FES Goals

There are various FES products which each vary slightly but all have the same core goal to stimulate muscle contraction. Which can then be used to provide the following for the patient:

  • Increase function and strength
  • Increase movement and the range of motion for the affected area
  • Decrease pain
  • Decrease spasticity (muscle tightness) in affected muscles

Dropped Foot Treatment using FES

Many people who have a long term neurological condition suffer with what doctors call ‘dropped foot’. This is when the foot catches the floor as you swing your leg through to take a step. The most common solution for this problem is a hard plastic splint called an AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis). Technological advances now allow us to stimulate the nerves that supply the muscles that lift the foot by electrical stimulation. All of the products on the market are designed to help you:

  • Walk more easily, with less effort
  • Have less trips
  • Walk further in distance
  • Walk on more challenging uneven surfaces
  • Manage stairs
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