Objective: To measure the effect of the Odstock Dropped Foot Stimulator (ODFS), a common peroneal stimulator, on the effort and speed of walking.
Design: A randomized controlled trial.
Subjects: Hemiplegic patients who had suffered a single stroke at least six months prior to the start of the trial whose walking was impaired by a drop-foot.
Interventions: The treatment, functional electrical stimulation (FES) group, used the stimulator and received a course of physiotherapy; the control group received physiotherapy alone.
Main outcome measures: Changes in walking speed measured over 10 m and the effort of walking measured by physiological cost index (PCI).
Results: Thirty-two subjects completed the trial, 16 in the FES group and 16 in the control group. Mean increase in walking speed between the beginning and end of the trial was 20.5% in the FES group (when the stimulator was used), and 5.2% in the control group. Improvement was also measured in PCI with a reduction of 24.9% in the FES group (when the stimulator was used) and 1% in the control group. No improvement in these parameters was measured in the FES group when the stimulator was not used.
Conclusion: Walking was statistically significantly improved when the ODFS was worn but no 'carry-over' was measured. Physiotherapy alone, in this group of subjects with established stroke, did not improve walking.