Effects of Functional Electrical Stimulation on Reducing Falls and Improving Gait Parameters in Multiple Sclerosis and Stroke

Elisa Gervasoni, Riccardo Parelli, Marcin Uszynski, Alessandro Crippa, Alberto Marzegan, Angelo Montesano, Davide Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Loss of neuromuscular control of the ankle joint is a common impairment in neurologic conditions, leading to abnormal gait and a greater risk of falling. Limited information, however, is available on the effectiveness of functional electrical stimulation (FES) on reducing falls, and no studies have investigated its usefulness in improving lower limbs kinematics related to foot clearance and energy recovery. Setting: Clinical setting. Study Design: Prospective longitudinal study. Participants: Twenty-four subjects, 14 people with multiple sclerosis (mean age ± standard deviation 50.93 ± 8.72 years) and 10 people with stroke (55.38 ± 14.55 years). Methods: The number of falls was assessed at baseline and after 8 weeks, and a clinical assessment was assessed at the baseline, 4-week, and 8-week time points. A subsample of the 24 subjects comprising 5 people with multiple sclerosis and 5 people with stroke performed a gait analysis assessment at baseline and after 4 weeks. After receiving the equipment and the training schedule, subjects performed daily home walking training using FES for 8 weeks. Main Outcome Measurements: The main outcomes were (1) the number of falls, (2) foot clearance, and (3) energy recovery. Results: A reduction in the number of falls was observed from baseline (n = 10) to the 8-week assessment (n = 2), . P = .02. Foot clearance increased (+5.26 mm, . P = .04) between the baseline without FES and at 4 weeks with FES (total effect). No statistically significant differences were found in energy recovery between baseline and 4 weeks. Conclusions: The use of FES had an impact on gait, specifically reducing the number of falls and improving walking. A specific effect at the ankle joint was observed, increasing foot clearance during the swing phase of gait. This effect was not accompanied with a reduction in the energetic expenditure during walking in subjects with multiple sclerosis and stroke. Level of Evidence: To be determined.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPM and R
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 4 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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