Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) / Dropfoot

What is Dropped Foot?

Drop foot is the inability to lift the foot and toes properly when walking. It is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles that lift the foot. This is often caused by the missing correct signals from the brain to the nerves controlling the muscles in the lower leg. It is therefore often present in combination with other body and joint problems contributing to an impaired gait pattern including Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, incomplete spinal injury and Head injury.

People with drop foot tend to scuff their toes along the ground, so they may lift their foot higher than usual using their pelvis or trunk, or swing the leg from the hip when walking to prevent this. Such compensations can have a negative impact on walking speed, efficiency and balance. Walking with drop foot can therefore require full concentration and greater effort.

At ON Physio we will carry out a detailed assessment looking to establish the cause of your foot drop and how it is affecting your walking and function. We will then decide, with you, the best intervention to correct the footdrop. Options include gait retraining, provision of ankle foot orthoses (AFO), exercise, spasticity intervention and functional electrical stimulation.

Drop foot is the inability to lift the foot and toes properly when walking

Functional Electrical Stimulation FES

FES is a technique used to produce contractions in paralysed muscles by the application of small pulses of electrical stimulation to nerves that supply the paralysed muscle. The stimulation is controlled in such a way that the movement produced provides useful function. FES is used as an aid to assist walking and also as a means of practicing functional movements for therapeutic benefit.

MyGait® The Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)

ON Physio can assess for and trial treatment with FES. We work with Ottobock and Odstock medical limited and are accredited clinicians prescribing the Odstock PACE and the Ottobock MyGait FES units.

MyGait® Ottobock

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for Drop Foot and Gait Rehabilitation
Functional electrical stimulation (FES) with MyGait® lifts the foot at just the right time in the walking, or gait cycle. Walking becomes faster and more efficient. With MyGait®, you can be in the moment rather than concentrating on every step.

MyGait is a surface stimulator, acting on your nerves via electrodes placed on your skin to transform the way you walk.

A special feature of MyGait® is the integrated 2nd channel. This makes it possible that an additional muscle group can be stimulated. Thus, for example, the gait pattern can be further with improved with knee stimulation to give additional support when walking. The 2nd channel can be switched on selectively.

A small switch you wear under your heel sends a wireless signal to the stimulator worn on a cuff just below your knee. The stimulator can then activate the muscles responsible for lifting your foot. This can result in an improved and more natural gait, reducing the risk of falls.

As a bonus, your lower leg muscles are exercised with MyGait, and they can get stronger, which can also make walking easier.

The ODFS Pace XL®
Odstock Medical Limited

Odstock® Dropped Foot Stimulator Pace (ODFS® Pace)
The Odstock® Dropped Foot Stimulator Pace (ODFS® Pace) is a single channel, foot switch controlled neuromuscular stimulator designed to correct dropped foot. Self adhesive skin electrodes are placed on the side of the leg over a nerve called the common peroneal. Stimulation causes the foot to lift (dorsiflexion) and tilt slightly (eversion). Electrode positions can also be chosen that produces a reflex action, adding knee and hip flexion.

For people with dorsiflexor weakness, every step requires high concentration because they tend to scuff their toes along the ground. Even a stone or a small uneven spot can become a big obstacle. Some people may swing the leg forward using their hip muscles. This requires more effort and leads to bad posture, which may result in back pain. Long distances are often avoided as a result of muscle fatigue setting in. This can lead to a withdrawal from social life and activities, and quality of life suffers.

Stimulation feels like pins and needles and most people quickly become used to the sensation.

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Contact Us

We realise you may wish to speak to one of our specialist neurological therapists to find our if your problem is appropriate for physiotherapy treatment. Email or call to arrange a free telephone consultation. There is no obligation to book an appointment following telephone consultation. The service is provided to help people choose whether physiotherapy is the right treatment for them.