Functional electrical stimulation with cycling in the critically ill: a pilot case-matched control study

J Crit Care. 2014 Aug;29(4):695.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.03.017. Epub 2014 Mar 26.


Purpose: The purpose was to determine (a) safety and feasibility of functional electrical stimulation (FES)-cycling and (b) compare FES-cycling to case-matched controls in terms of functional recovery and delirium outcomes.

Materials and methods: Sixteen adult intensive care unit patients with sepsis ventilated for more than 48 hours and in the intensive care unit for at least 4 days were included. Eight subjects underwent FES-cycling in addition to usual care and were compared to 8 case-matched control individuals. Primary outcomes were safety and feasibility of FES-cycling. Secondary outcomes were Physical Function in Intensive Care Test scored on awakening, time to reach functional milestones, and incidence and duration of delirium.

Results: One minor adverse event was recorded. Sixty-nine out of total possible 95 FES sessions (73%) were completed. A visible or palpable contraction was present 80% of the time. There was an improvement in Physical Function in Intensive Care Test score of 3.9/10 points in the intervention cohort with faster recovery of functional milestones. There was also a shorter duration of delirium in the intervention cohort.

Conclusions: The delivery of FES-cycling is both safe and feasible. The preliminary findings suggest that FES-cycling may improve function and reduce delirium. Further research is required to confirm the findings of this study and evaluate the efficacy of FES-cycling.

Keywords: Electric stimulation therapy; Intensive care; Muscle weakness; Recovery of function; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Critical Care
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Delirium / etiology
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / adverse effects
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sepsis / complications