Content » Vol 45, Issue 4

Original report

Quantification of gait kinematics and walking ability of people with multiple sclerosis who are new users of functional electrical stimulation

Sasha M. Scott, Marietta L. van der Linden, Julie E. Hooper, Paula Cowan, Thomas H. Mercer
School of Health Science, Queen Margaret University, EH21 6UU Edinburgh, United Kingdom
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1109


Objective: To assess whether the application of Functional Electrical Stimulation improves gait kinematics and walking ability in people with multiple sclerosis who experience foot drop.
Design: Acute open labelled comparative observation trial.
Participants: Twelve people (3 females, 9 males, EDSS 2–4) with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (47. 8 years (standard deviation 6. 6)) who were new users of functional electrical stimulation.
Methods: Gait kinematics were recorded using 3D gait analysis. Walking ability was assessed through the 10-m walk test and the 6-min walk test. All assessments were performed with and without the assistance of functional electrical stimulation. The effect of functional electrical stimulation was analysed using paired t-tests.
Results: Ankle dorsiflexion at initial contact (p = 0. 026), knee flexion at initial contact (p = 0. 044) and peak knee flexion during swing (p = 0. 011) were significantly greater whilst walking with Functional Electrical Stimulation. The increased peak dorsiflexion in swing of nearly 4 degrees during functional electrical stimulation assisted walking approached significance (p = 0. 069). The 10-m walk time was significantly improved by functional electrical stimulation (p = 0. 004) but the 6 min walk test was not.
Conclusion: The acute application of functional electrical stimulation resulted in an orthotic effect through a change in ankle and knee kinematics and increased walking speed over a short distance in people with multiple sclerosis who experience foot drop.

Lay Abstract


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