Functional Electrical Stimulation

Weakness of the muscles is a common condition after a brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis or other neurological conditions. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) has been used for years to facilitate recovery after a neurological injury.

It has proven to be safe and effective when used properly with the following conditions:

  • Brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Dystonia
  • Nerve injury
  • Drop foot

FES applies electrical currents to activate nerves in extremities affected by injury or illness. It is most beneficial when combined with functional movements and tasks to promote normal patterning. Promoting normal movement patterns leads to adaptive neuroplasticity and improvement in function. Our physiotherapists use FES to restore function of paralyzed muscles, weakness and atrophy after a neurological injury.

Benefits of Functional Electrical Stimulation

  • Improvement of functional movements such as walking, running, stepping, reaching, grasping.
  • Strengthening weak muscles
  • Inhibiting spasticity (inappropriate co-contraction)
  • Promoting normal motor patterning through adaptive neuroplasticity (rather than maladaptive)
  • Improving shoulder subluxation and weakness after stroke


Dropped Foot (Foot Drop)

Another common condition treated using FES is dropped foot or foot drop. This is an inability to lift the foot and toes when swinging the leg during walking, causing the toes to catch or the foot to drag on the ground. Dropped foot can be caused by weakness of the muscles that lift the foot and excessive tightness (spasticity) in the muscles of the calf after brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis or other neurological conditions.

Stimulation is given to the muscles at the front of the leg. A switch worn in the shoe triggers the stimulation and electrical signals reach the muscles through electrodes stuck to the skin on the side of the leg, just below the knee.

At Propel Physiotherapy, we use the Odstock ODFS® Pace from Odstock Medical Ltd. which is distributed in Canada through FES Mobility. The ODFS® Pace is a versatile FES device that can be used for a variety of functional tasks (foot drop, gait training, strength training, sit to stand). For more information on the Odstock ODFS® Pace and Pace XL visit

We also have extensive experience and training using Bioness® systems including the L300 Foot Drop System and the The H200 Wireless Hand Rehabilitation System.

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