FES. What's your experience?

Hi All.
Hope things are good with you.
I have severe foot drop, and stumble and trip even if grabbing hold to someone or something. I’ve been reading about FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) as a way of managing foot drop.
Has anyone used this? I’m interested to hear your experiences.
Thank you.

I use FES (self funded with Odstock) and quite honestly couldn’t manage without it. It’s not perfect and I still have to use sticky but I am now back commuting into London a day a week and that would not be happening without FES. I trialled one via an NHS physio but it was made very clear to me that Mid Essex NHS do not fund them (whereas some other areas do).

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I have been using FES for twenty years and would not be walking at all today without it, so count me as a fan. They can help built muscle strength, which is much better than a traditional splint where muscles are isolated and waste.
Your GP can refer you for assessment.
Referral options | Odstock Medical

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Thank you so much for those positive replies.
The Neuro Physio Dept are seeing me (again) in a months time after I re-referred myself back to them. I’ve told them I am keen to look at FES as fed up with looking like I’m drunk & now hip pain as I try to compensate for the drag.
I’ll let you know how I get on. I’ve got a Queen concert to manage next year!! :see_no_evil:

Good luck with it! I still look a bit drunk even with FES but maybe that’s just me :joy:

I am also a fan of FES (fortunately NHS funded) it halves my effort of walking so doubles my range. Not perfect but pretty bloomin’ effective.

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I went to physio to try one out but my muscles were too tight so it wouldn’t work. Worth a try.

I use a toe off now to stop my foot drop.
Looks great with my dresses.


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I use a FES and think its very helpful, I also use a “foot up” especially helpful when driving - I still look drunk…a friend told me I should carry an empty wine bottle - give people something to talk about!

I used an FES (self funded as Coastal West Sussex CCG will not fund for MS, Bah!) for several years. I was still only able to walk with a walker but found the FES invaluable.

If you can get funded, your local physio department should know. I wasted a whole year because an individual physiotherapist thought it was worth trying to get funding in spite of their definite stance on MS.

It took her ages to make the application, then I wasn’t informed of the result as the CCG told my GP but not me. No one thought (CCG, GP or physio!) that it might be relevant to me until I phoned the CCG, was told they’d made a decision but weren’t allowed to disclose it!!

Anyway, subsequently I found out the cost of self funding. Amazingly, the same physio (now retired, good thing imo!) had told me the cost was ‘about £3000’. It wasn’t. The cost was per appointment (with Odstock). It’s required to have 2 appointments initially, then another 6 weeks later, then another after 6 months. Following that, it’s annual.

Odstock are based at Salisbury Hospital, but do clinics elsewhere in the country. Apart from them, there are other companies who do their own variant of FES. Many of these do in fact cost more.

The best place to be assessed for FES is at the National Hospital for Neurology in North London. They’ll assess you and see if your perineal nerve (this is the nerve that runs from your knee to your foot, the FES unit stimulates this nerve and the resultant pulse makes your toes lift). They will also try out all the different makes of FES to see which is most appropriate for you. All are then available on the NHS.

Best of luck in your trials to come. Hopefully it will work for you. It can be a complete game changer when it comes to walking ability. Sadly, I was a bit late. Then I fell and a broken femur made any walking regardless of equipment impossible.

In the short term, if you don’t have any other foot lifting aids, have a look at Boxia™ Drop Foot AFO - Free Standard UK Delivery - Orthotix UK or https://www.ossur.com/en-gb/bracing-and-supports/foot-and-ankle/foot-up Both of these are cheap ways of attaching a nylon/elastic type strap to your shoe and enabling a ‘lift’. They work, not as well as an FES, but in a simplistic manner. Personally, I used a Foot-up a lot until I discovered Boxia. Both can also be purchased from that well known website that has the same name as a South American river!


Hi. I’m curious as to what a ‘toe off’ is?

Hi Sue. Thank you for your reply. It was really useful. I shall take of board your comments. Doesnt sound the FES is going to be straight forward :confused:

Hi Hilz,

It’s a carbon fibre splint.
Very light and comfortable.

Worth looking at lots of options.

To be honest Hils, it completely depends on your location. In some areas, you just have a chat with a physio and you’re referred to Odstock with no problem. Elsewhere it’s impossible to change the local CCG restriction on FES.

So in your situation, try talking to your physiotherapist (assuming you have one - if not you’ll perhaps need a referral). They could get you a Foot-up or Boxia anyway and/or refer you to orthotics for an ankle foot orthosis (AFO) which is the kind of thing Jen uses.

Best of luck.


Hi everyone.
Just to give an update re my FES assessment…
I failed :pleading_face:. I hadnt realised as high as 1 in 5 assessments ‘fail’, and I was number 5 today.
I’d gone with an open mind, but was secretly keeping my fingers Xd.
The FES specialist tried putting the pads in various locations at the outside of the knee. She kept moving them round & round, and everytime then ran the current through I nearly shot out the seat, it was really painful, even on the lowest setting.
We persevered for about 30 mins, but it clearly was not meant to be.
Her scientific explanation was, “its how your body’s built” :roll_eyes:
So back to my ‘toe-up’ & ankle brace. Bit upset, but thats MS :see_no_evil: