In choosing to work with the RehaMove FES Cycling system there are a few potential risks as well as benefits for a user. However, we have hundreds of clients now using these systems safely at home and in clinics in the UK and thousands around the world. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is at last benefiting individuals in their home environments.
As with any exercise programming, certain precautions must be adhered to. Those most specific to individuals with spinal cord injury are described below. We will always verify that a system is going to be suitable for an individual to use.
FES and the RehaMove system should not be used by people
- Who use cardiac pacemakers - (depending on type - most modern designs are fine)
- With epilepsy
- With known allergies to electrode gel
- With metal implants directly underneath or near the muscle groups which are to be stimulated.
Pregnant women should desist from using stimulation because the possible adverse effects are unknown and have not yet been rigorously investigated.
Individuals who have experienced autonomic dysreflexia should consult their usual doctor or ideally their spinal injuries consultant before commencing to use the system. If the prospective client can recognise the signs of this condition in themselves, and understand how to manage it, then this need not be a barrier to using a system. Avoid exercising with a full bladder or bowel - and remember to avoid dehydration by drinking a little water from time to time.
Autonomic Dysreflexia is a complication that occurs in people having sustained injuries at the 6th thoracic level and above. Generally, it is brought on by a stimulus that prior to the injury would have been recognized as uncomfortable. Due to limited communication between the injured spinal cord and brain, many individuals are unable to identify and respond to “uncomfortable” stimuli. As a result, blood pressure, heart rate and an overall sense of well-being becomes disrupted. The changes in blood pressure and heart rate may be life threatening if not responded to appropriately. It is imperative that the signs and symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia are understood by all involved prior to beginning an exercise program.
People injured more than 5 years ago may need special assessment before starting an exercise program. They can have a large loss of muscle mass, contractures (limited range of joint motion), and brittle bones.
People over 40 years of age may need additional evaluation for possible heart problems.
People with the following conditions may be disqualified:
- History of leg fractures.
- Severe spasticity may be problematic. Moderate spasticity is often helped by this exercise although it make take up to 3 months for the benefits to be apparent.
- Contractures that are severe enough to prevent cycling motion of the legs.
- Severe osteoporosis (thin, weakened bones).