Clinical Edge

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Functional Electrical Stimulation Effective for MS

Int J MS Care; 2018 Sep-Oct; Street, et al

Despite progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), long-term users of functional electrical stimulation (FES) still benefit from an orthotic effect after using FES for 5 years, according to a recent study. 145 people with foot drop and MS were included (mean age, 52 [range, 28–74] years). Orthotic effects, unassisted walking speed, and clinically important differences (ie, ≥0.05 and ≥0.10 m/s) were derived from walking speed over 10 meters. Visual analogue scales examined joint pain, walking effort, trips, confidence, and quality of life. Measures were taken on day 1, after 6 months, and at 2, 3, 4, and 5 years. Researchers found:

  • A significant difference was found overall for walking with FES compared with walking without FES for the 5-year period.
  • Despite a significant decline in overall unassisted walking speed at baseline (0.58 m/s) compared with 5 years later (0.46 m/s), participants achieved an orthotic effect with (0.52 m/s) vs without (0.46 m/s) FES after 5 years.
  • A significant decrease in joint pain was found after 6 months compared with day 1, which was maintained after 5 years.


Street T, Singleton C. Five-year follow-up of a longitudinal cohort study of the effectiveness of functional electrical stimulation for people with multiple sclerosis. Int J MS Care. 2018;20(5):224-230. doi:10.7224/1537-2073.2016-094.