A recent study on FES Cycling in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine set out to examine the effect of long-term, lower extremity functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling on the physical integrity and functional recovery in people with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI).
This was a retrospective cohort, with mean follow-up of 29.1 months, and cross-sectional evaluation at the Washington University Spinal Cord Injury Neurorehabilitation Center.
Twenty-five people with chronic SCI who received lower extremity FES cycling were matched by age, gender, injury level, and severity, and duration of injury to 20 people with SCI who received just range of motion and stretching exercises.
Change in neurological function was assessed from the motor, sensory, and combined motor-sensory scores (CMSS) assessed by the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment scale. Response was defined as ≥1 point improvement.
FES was associated with an 80% CMSS responder rate compared to 40% in controls. An average 9.6 CMSS point loss among controls was offset by an average 20-point gain among FES subjects. Quadriceps muscle mass was on average 36% higher and intra/inter-muscular fat 44% lower, in the FES group. Hamstring and quadriceps muscle strength was 30 and 35% greater, respectively, in the FES group. Quality of life and daily function measures were significantly higher in FES group.
FES during cycling in chronic SCI may provide substantial physical integrity benefits, including enhanced neurological and functional performance, increased muscle size and force-generation potential, reduced spasticity, and improved quality of life.
To me this confirms previous studies and our own experience with FES Cycling. In the seven years we have worked with the RehaMove system I have been impressed with the impact this type of system can make. Of course they are not for everyone - like any form of exercise the client has to commit to use the system. If the system sits unused in the corner its an expensive waste.
Lower extremity functional electrical stimulation cycling promotes physical and functional recovery in chronic spinal cord injury.