State-of-the-art Functional Electric Stimulation (FES) equipment is currently helping many patients at HHH regain their strength and cardiovascular fitness. While FES technology has been around for more than thirty years, recent advances have made the equipment much more user-friendly. Physical therapists, who have received specialized training in the use of the equipment, including how to monitor the settings to ensure maximum benefit to the user, use the FES bicycle with inpatients and outpatients.
FES technology can help people with many levels of disability, including those with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, brain injury, Transverse Myelitis, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and other conditions. It is also being used to help children with cerebral palsy improve their motor skills.
This high-tech bicycle provides patterned electrical stimulation to the surface of muscles, which stimulates nerves and evokes muscle contractions and activity. Surface electrodes are placed on one or both sides of the patient’s upper or lower body. The electrodes are then connected to the computerized brain of the machinery that controls speed and resistance. It also measures the amount of effort the cyclist is exerting and automatically measures each patient’s progress.
FES enables the individual who may have lost voluntary control over their muscles due to spinal cord injury to cycle or walk. Patients can even use the FES equipment without transferring from their wheelchairs. The exercise relaxes spasms, improves circulation, maintains or increases range of motion, and prevents muscle atrophy that often accompanies lack of use.
Once patients leave the hospital to return home, they can access FES as an outpatient, or even obtain the equipment for home use. Medicare covers FES therapy for patients with spinal cord injury.