A Feasibility Study to Investigate the Effect of Functional Electrical Stimulation and Physiotherapy Exercise on the Quality of Gait of People With Multiple Sclerosis


  • Conflict of Interest: Paul Taylor, Catherine Barrett, Geraldine Mann, Wendy Wareham, and Ian Swain all own shares in the company Odstock Medical Limited, which manufactures and distributes the O2CHSII device used in this research.
  • For more information on author guidelines, an explanation of our peer review process, and conflict of interest informed consent policies, please go to http://www.wiley.com/bw/submit.asp?ref=1094-7159&site=1
  • Source(s) of financial support: Funded by the MS Trust.
  • All authors approved the final manuscript.
  • Suppliers: The O2CHSII is CE marked, manufactured, and supplied by Odstock Medical Limited, UK. The electrodes were manufactured by Axelgaard, USA.



To examine the effect of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for dropped foot and hip instability in combination with physiotherapy core stability exercises.


Twenty-eight people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and unilateral dropped foot participated in a randomized crossover trial. Group1 received FES for correction of dropped foot for six weeks with the addition of hip extension for a further six weeks. In weeks 12–18, FES was continued with the addition of eight sessions of core stability physiotherapy with home-based exercise. FES and home-based exercise were continued until weeks 19–24. Group 2 received the same physiotherapy intervention over the first 12 weeks, adding FES in the second 12 weeks.


FES improved walking speed and Rivermead Observational Gait Analysis (ROGA) score, whereas physiotherapy did not. Adding gluteal stimulation further improved ROGA score. Both interventions reduced falls, but adding FES to physiotherapy reduced them further. FES had greater impact on Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale, MSIS-29.


The intervention was feasible. FES for dropped foot may improve mobility and quality of life and may reduce falls. Adding gluteal stimulation further improved gait quality. Adding physiotherapy may have enhanced the effect of FES, but FES had the dominant effect.