A pilot evaluation of a neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) based methodology for the prevention of venous stasis during bed rest

Med Eng Phys. 2010 May;32(4):349-55. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2010.01.006. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


Bed rest poses an increased risk factor for a potentially fatal venous thromboembolism (VTE). Lack of activation of the calf muscle pump during this resting period gives rise to venous stasis which may lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) development. Our aim was to investigate the effects that 4h of bed rest have on the lower limb hemodynamics of healthy subjects and to what extent electrically elicited contractions of the calf muscles can alleviate these effects. Outcome variables included popliteal vein blood flow and heart rate. Primary results indicated that the resting group experienced a significant decline in popliteal venous blood flow of approximately 47% with approximately 13% decrease in heart rate. The stimulated groups maintained a significantly higher venous blood flow and heart rate. Volume flow in the contralateral limb remained constant throughout the study and was comparable to that of the stimulated limb's recovery flow. The results suggest that even short periods of bed rest can significantly reduce lower limb blood flow which could have implications for DVT development. Electrically elicited calf muscle contractions significantly improve lower limb blood flow and can alleviate some debilitating effects of bed rest.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bed Rest / adverse effects*
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply
  • Leg / physiology
  • Lower Extremity / blood supply
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Popliteal Vein / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Varicose Ulcer / complications
  • Varicose Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Varicose Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / complications
  • Venous Thromboembolism / physiopathology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult