Effect of a 2-week trial of functional electrical stimulation on gait function and quality of life in people with multiple sclerosis

Abbey Downing, David Van Ryn, Anne Fecko, Christopher Aiken, Sean McGowan, Sarah Sawers, Thomas McInerny, Katie Moore, Louis Passariello, Helen Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Footdrop is a common gait deviation in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) leading to impaired gait and balance as well as decreased functional mobility. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) provides an alternative to the current standard of care for footdrop, an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). FES stimulates the peroneal nerve and activates the dorsiflexor muscles, producing an active toe clearance and a more normal gait. This study was undertaken to determine the effects of a 2-week FES Home Assessment Program on gait speed, perceived walking ability, and quality of life (QOL) among people with MSrelated footdrop. Methods: Participants completed the Timed 25-Foot Walk test (T25FW) and two self-report measures: 12-item Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale (MSWS-12) and 29-item Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale (MSIS-29). Measures were taken without FES before and with FES after 2 weeks of full-time FES wear. Results: A total of 19 participants (10 female, 9 male) completed the study; mean age and duration of disease were 51.77 ± 10.16 and 9.01 ± 7.90 years, respectively. Use of FES for 2 weeks resulted in a significant decrease in time to complete the T25FW (P < .0001), the MSWS-12 standardized score (P < .0001), and the MSIS-29 total (P < .0001), Physical subscale (P < .0001), and Psychological subscale (P = .0006) scores. Conclusions: These results suggest that use of FES can significantly improve gait speed, decrease the impact of MS on walking ability, and improve QOL in people with MS-related footdrop even over a short period of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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