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Functional Electrical Stimuation for MS patients

Case study arrowPeople diagnosed with a long-term condition such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) often accumulate a variety of symptoms which preclude active participation in their usual activities of daily living, including their work and family roles as well as leisure and social pursuits.

Patients describe a gradual reduction in their quality of life and consequent impact on their mood and motivation. One of the most common symptoms which impacts on people with MS is a reduction in mobility which can be related to muscle weakness, muscle spasticity, ataxia, sensory loss or a combination of these and / or other symptoms. FES is an orthotic and therapeutic intervention to improve walking and other motor functions for people who have upper motor neurone conditions. The technique produces contractions in paralysed muscles by the application of small pulses of electrical stimulation to nerves that supply the paralysed muscle.

Stimulation may be applied using skin surface electrodes or using an implanted device. For FES to be effective both the peripheral nerve and the muscle supplied by the nerve must be undamaged. For this reason FES can only be of benefit in patients with foot drop resulting from disorders of the central nervous system (brain & spinal cord), for example Stroke or Multiple Sclerosis. The benefits of FES include a reduction in effort of walking, falls and trips, reduction in spasticity and therefore has an influence in reduction of pain and use of prescription drugs and it aids functional activity promoting an improved quality of life.

Project Outcomes:

The FES clinic is provided by the MS Specialist Physiotherapist at the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust. The Specialist Physiotherapist (Project Lead) has received appropriate training and education on the use of FES and has a breadth of experience in its use with patients. The adoption of this innovation has benefitted patients who were waiting for FES provision by reducing the time they have to wait for assessment and provision.

  • Patients referred during 2010 – 11 had an average waiting time of 32 months. Patients being provided with devices during this project, referred during April 2012 – Mar 13 waited an average 22.5 months. 
  • Patients referred from April 2013 onwards are currently still waiting – the waiting time currently 23 months.
  • Fifty new patient assessment have been conducted since project commencement – 38 of those are currently still on treatment and 31 of those are participating in the long term evaluation.

Award Value: £43,076


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Contact Name Jenny Thain, The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust Email address

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