Functional electrical stimulation (FES)

Hi all.

Has anyone tried one of these FES stimulation things ? What are your thoughts…

Im going for an appointment next week to have a look at one & to have a go, just wanted to ask if anyone else on here has any experience with this type of stimulation to assist with walking.


Hi Dave, No I haven’t had any experience with FES but I am very interested in how it works etc. I always thought there was some sort of criteria and you had to be assessed to see if you are a suitable candidate. I have an appointment to see a physio coming up soon and I was going to ask about it then. If you do go for it I would be very interested in any feedback from you. Sorry I am not much help Mags xx

I will let you know how i get on. Ive always thought about electric currents carrying the brain messages to other parts of the body, (after all, thats what the brain messages basicaly are), so i hope this form of stimulation to the muscles and nerve endings provides some sort of help.

Who knows, but its worth a try at least to satisfy my curriosity regarding electrical waves & muscle stimulation etc… Just hope i dont get electrocuted everytime i stand up !

Dave if you look further down the page at a post marked walking and balance you will find that Whammel uses one and has done so for ten years…there is a link to give you more info too. Hope that helps, Nina

Yes I have tried them. Basically it stimulate the nerve to lift your foot up which is the peroneal nerve.

They are brilliant for people with flaccid foot drop not so good for fucntional foot drop.

Functional foot drop is when there is spasticity in the calf muscle which pulls your foot down all the time. So basically there is nothing wrong with the peroneal nerve the problem is the calf wont relax to enable the foot to lift.

flaccid foot drop is when the peroneal nerve is not getting the impulse from the brain to lift the foot so the FES does it instead.

I have calf spasticity so FES is no good - so I am told!

Moyna xxx

I was tested last week for one to be fitted. I was there for nearly 2 hours, but unfortunately my leg wouldn’t respond at all, (but then my good leg wouldn’t either!) I was gutted as I was left with really uncomfortable foot splint to use! It worked brilliantly on physio and I was hopeful it would be the answer to my drop foot. They were prepared to fund me for my own as well, about £2000 worth. Spooky thing is my mum, who also has PPMS, was tested about 10 years ago for same thing. It didn’t work for her either, we obviously share some weird genetic electric problem! Hope it works for you!

The assessment will inform you on whether FES is suitable for you. People’s physiology can differ greatly so FES may or may not work for you. FES worked well for me for three years, but sadly, as my ppms progressed FES became less effective. Also funding is an issue. It cost me £300 per visit. You may need two/three in first year to ensure device is set up and working correctly. On top of this you need to pay for £300 for the device. More for a wireless foot switch. Overall, I would say give it a go but be prepared to get frustrated putting on electrodes, dealing with wires and discomfort with foot switch inside shoe. If you don’t have to pay, the inconveniences versus the benefits of walking a tad better are worth it. However, if you have to self fund, the minor benefits may not seem worth it.

Ok, thanks all. I’ll let you know how i get on

I had a fitting and trial for an FES and it really worked so was quite positive. The sensation of the electric pulse through the leg muscles was very uncomfortable but I was told you get used to this the more you use it and your leg adjusts to the sensation. However the next day I felt that it had caused harm to my left leg in that it is now weaker than it was before I went for the trial and the fatigue I suffer is worse.

I am very disappointed as once I have that sort of setback I never recover from it. I don’t want to try it on my stronger leg for obvious reasons.

Has anyone else experienced this problem?

In my experience a fes tends to build muscle strength over time and certainly doesn’t cause weakness. Do you think the increased mobility may have led you to do too much and this is simply payback for overdoing it?

Hopefully, you are feeling better for another days rest.


Hi all l have had my fes for about 8 months now it helps a little but some days l feel as if my leg does not want to work with it l do try to do the excise programme as often as l can to help build up the weak muscles regards Jan

I’m a FES newbie and I think it’s pretty amazing.

I panicked a bit when I went for the assessment as for those first few minutes of buzzing, nothing happened and after a bit of fiddling my foot started moving sideways… after a bit more adjustment toes up, then on my 2nd visit, pads adjusted a bit more a no sideways at all

I have an old unit from the therapy centre to use for now but what I really need is a dual channel unit. I need to ask my doctor to refer me directly to Odstock and in the meantime as the centre only have the single channel ones. I’m also using it for daily hamstring exercises. The exercises are amazing as for a while after switching it off, I can still move my leg the same with no FES.

I think Whammel’s right and believe that’s why I need dual channel to A. lift my toes and B. bend my knee - it’s the knee bending I’m working on, trying to make my right hamstring work again so 5 mins on my hamstring before bed.

Even tho the FES can be a bit weird, I think I’ll get used to it as the difference walking is amazing.

Now, the only remaining issue im my not entirely suitable wardrobe, tight jeans are not ideal!

Sonia x

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There is an electrode position behind the knee, which can help initiate knee bending and still lift the foot. It can take a fair bit of experimenting to get the correct position, but something that might help.

The real expertise is based at Salisbury and no doubt they will be able to find the correct set up.

Popliteal Fossa Positions

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Thank you, I sent an email to my surgery so fingers crossed. I think the stiff leg is as much a problem as the foot drop and when I went the second time, the physio had pictures out and there’s been a second opinion from another fellow at the centre (who seemed pretty sharp). I’ll have a look at the link
Sonia x

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I’m delighted with the unit I’ve been able to use on trial from my local therapy centre since the end of June.

Initially I found it a bit hit and miss getting the pads in the correct position but that was soon mastered without the need to visit the tattoo parlour to get the outline permanently marked on my leg. I also found that the more I used it, the strength of the current could be reduced as my muscles improved on the reaction of the electric current running through my leg. Since June I’ve had only the one occasion when fairly new pads were causing a large amount of discomfort, but I put that down to the pads as as soon as I changed them it was back to “pain” free use.

Today I’ve just learnt the great news that the therapy centre has received funding approval, so within a few weeks I’ll be able to return the loan unit and have my own which I’m hoping to get a wireless foot switch for, as it’s the long wire from the device to the heel that is the only part that irritates me.

All the best


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