Cycling induced by functional electrical stimulation in children affected by cerebral palsy: Case report

E. Trevisi, S. Gualdi, C. De Conti', A. Salghetti, A. Martinuzzi, A. Pedrocchi, S. Ferrante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Recently, the efficacy of functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling have been demonstrated on the improvement of strength and motor control in adults with stroke. FES-cycling, providing a repetitive goal-oriented task, could facilitate cortical reorganization and utilization of residual cortico-spinal pathways. These benefits could be more enhanced in children because of the greater plasticity and flexibility of their central nervous system. Aim. The aim of the present case report study was to explore the feasibility of FES-cycling in children with cerebral palsy (CP) and to provide a set of instrumental measures able to evaluate the effects of this novel treatment on cycling and walking ability. Design. Interventional study. Setting and population. Two ambulant outpatient children with diplegic CP were recruited by the "E. Medea" Scientific Institute. Methods. Patients followed a FES-cycling treatment for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 7 weeks. Pre and post treatment tests were performed, namely clinical measures and electromyographic, kinematic and oxygen expenditure analysis during gait and cycling. Results. The treatment was safe, feasible and well accepted by the 2 children. After treatment both patients achieved a more symmetrical muscular strategy during voluntary cycling and gait and a significant reduction of muscle co-contractions during cycling. These improvements were corroborated by a decrease in oxygen expenditure during the post test for one of the two children, the less impaired, implying a better exploiting of bi-articular muscles. Conclusion and clinical rehabilitation impact. FEScycling is feasible and safe and it may be an alternative rehabilitation method for diplegic CP patients. The set of instrumental measurements proposed seems to be a valuable tool for functional assessment to identify subclinical anomalies and improvements on cycling and gait in CP patients. Electric stimulation therapy - Cerebral palsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Recovery of function
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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