Effects of functional electrical stimulation on gait function and quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis taking dalfampridine

Lori Mayer, Tina Warring, Stephanie Agrella, Helen Rogers, Edward J. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) can adversely affect gait, causing gait slowing, loss of balance,decreased functional mobility, and gait deficits, such as footdrop. Current treatments for gait dysfunction due to MS are pharmacologic, using dalfampridine, or orthotic, using an ankle-foot orthosis. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) to the fibular nerve stimulates active dorsiflexion and provides an alternative treatment for gait dysfunction caused by footdrop. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of FES on gait function and the impact of MS on walking and quality of life for people with MS taking a stable dalfampridine dose. Methods: Participants demonstrating gait slowing and footdrop completed the Timed 25-Foot Walk (T25FW) test, 6-Minute Walk (6MW) test, GaitRite Functional Ambulation Profile, 12-item Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale (MSWS-12), and 36-item Short Form Health Status Survey (SF-36) at screening without FES; the measures were repeated with FES at baseline, 1 month, and 3 months. Results: Twenty participants (8 men and 12 women) completed this unblinded case series study. The mean age, duration of MS, and time taking dalfampridine were 51.7, 15.8, and 1.4 years, respectively. Changes from screening to baseline and screening to 3 months were analyzed. Significant improvement was noted from screening to baseline for the MSWS-12 (P = .024) and SF-36 Physical Function domain (P = .028) and from screening to 3 months for the T25FW (P = .015), MSWS-12 (P = .003), and SF-36 Physical Function (P = .032) and Role Limitation-Physical Health (P = .012) domains. Conclusions: Improvements above those induced pharmacologically suggest that FES can augment pharmacologic intervention and significantly improve gait function, decrease the impact of MS on walking, and improve quality of life for people with MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing

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