Original research| Volume 96, ISSUE 4, P667-672, April 2015

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Effectiveness of Functional Electrical Stimulation on Walking Speed, Functional Walking Category, and Clinically Meaningful Changes for People With Multiple Sclerosis

Published:December 11, 2014DOI:



      To determine the effectiveness of functional electrical stimulation (FES) on drop foot in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), using data from standard clinical practice.


      Case series with a consecutive sample of FES users collected between 2008 and 2013.


      Specialist FES center at a district general hospital.


      Patients with MS who have drop foot (N=187) (117 women, 70 men; mean age, 55y [range, 27–80y]; mean duration since diagnosis, 11.7y [range, 1–56y]). A total of 166 patients were still using FES after 20 weeks, with 153 patients completing the follow-up measures.


      FES of the common peroneal nerve (178 unilateral, 9 bilateral FES users).

      Main Outcome Measures

      Clinically meaningful changes (ie, >.05m/s and >0.1m/s) and functional walking category derived from 10-m walking speed.


      An increase in walking speed was found to be highly significant (P<.001), both initially where a minimum clinically meaningful change was observed (.07m/s) and after 20 weeks with a substantial clinically meaningful change (.11m/s). After 20 weeks, treatment responders displayed a 27% average improvement in their walking speed. No significant training effect was found. Overall functional walking category was maintained or improved in 95% of treatment responders.


      FES of the dorsiflexors is a well-accepted intervention that enables clinically meaningful changes in walking speed, leading to a preserved or an increased functional walking category.


      List of abbreviations:

      AFO (ankle-foot orthosis), FES (functional electrical stimulation), MS (multiple sclerosis)
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