Therapeutic effects of functional electrical stimulation on gait in individuals post-stroke

Ann Biomed Eng. 2015 Feb;43(2):451-66. doi: 10.1007/s10439-014-1148-8. Epub 2014 Oct 15.


Functional electrical stimulation (FES) to lower extremity (LE) muscles is used by individuals post-stroke as an alternative to mechanical orthotic devices during gait or as a training modality during rehabilitation. Technological developments which improve the feasibility, accessibility and effectiveness of FES systems as orthotic and training devices, highlight the potential of FES for rehabilitating LE function in individuals post-stroke. This study presents a systematic review of the carryover effects of LE FES to motor performance when stimulation is not applied (therapeutic effects) in subjects post-stroke. A description of advances in FES technologies, with an emphasis on systems designed to promote LE function is included, and mechanisms that may be associated with the observed therapeutic effects are discussed. Eligible studies were reviewed for methodological quality, population, intervention and outcome characteristics. Therapeutic effects of FES were consistently demonstrated at the body function and activity levels when it was used as a training modality. Compared to matched treatments that did not incorporate FES, no definite conclusions can be drawn regarding the superiority of FES. When FES was used as an alternative to an orthotic device, it had no superior therapeutic effects at the activity level, yet patients still seemed to prefer it.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Stroke / therapy*