Forum

FES issues

I’ve had foot slap with my left foot for nearly two years. I was given an AFO, which doesn’t help - it just immobilises the ankle. Then I was given an FES unit to strengthen the muscles. (The neuro-physiotherapist and I decided against a walking unit.) Initially I just used it on the soleus muscle at the side of the calf, to lift the foot. Recently she had me start using it on the gastrocnemius at the back of the calf, to lift the heel/ point the toes. This was added because I mentioned that my left foot doesn’t point as much as the right foot when I’m going down stairs.

So much for the background. My issue is this: the FES doesn’t seem to be helping. I don’t have any trouble lifting my foot. I can stand on tiptoe and point my foot, although I have to concentrate on this when going down stairs. The issue is in controlling the foot as it comes down when I step forward on to it. I’ve tried doing foot raises, and the motion is very jerky when I lower the left foot. I’ve also tried doing circles with my feet. The right foot does smooth circles, the left foot does polygons.

My next appointment with the neuro-physiotherapist is in September. My question is how long should I keep using a device that doesn’t seem to be helping?

Hi is it possible to have your appointment brought forward? I started using FES eighteen months ago, for foot drop, and I also have six monthly appointments. Over the last four months I have really struggled to walk even with FES. I have just had my six monthly check up and it seems my leg muscles are no longer working to lift my foot so I have been given a double channel FES and what a difference this makes. I haven’t ventured outside yet but I am certainly much steadier on my feet indoors and have a much better lift. If you can get an earlier appointment at least the neuro physiotherapist can assess the situation for you. I should have phoned and asked to be seen earlier as I have had three falls since Christmas. I hope you get the answers you need. Sue

My FES unit is double channel. I use electrodes on my soleus and gastrocnemius at the same time, with the unit set to alternate between them. So my foot points, then lifts.

I will wait till September for my appointment. I’ve only been using electrodes on my gastrocnemius for a couple of weeks, so it’s a bit soon to tell the physiotherapist that it’s not working. But it may be necessary to reassess what can be done about my foot slap, if anything.