July 2015

DROP FOOT: Benefits of FES after stroke are maintained at 42 weeks

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Gait speed improvements associated with 30 weeks of functional electrical stimulation (FES) in poststroke patients are maintained at 42 weeks, according to research presented in June at the 2015 ISPO World Congress.

In 99 patients who experienced drop foot following a stroke, researchers from the University of Maryland in Baltimore and FES developer Bioness in Valencia, CA, found that gait speed improved from .42 m/s at baseline to .6 m/s after 42 weeks of FES use. In 67% of patients, the change was greater than the minimum clinically important difference of .1 m/s, and 55% had progressed to a higher Perry Ambulation Category.

The results are consistent with those found after 30 weeks in the same population. Those findings were published in the June 2013 issue of Stroke; gait speed improvements at 30 weeks were similar for the 99 FES users and 98 patients who used ankle foot orthoses.

“This doesn’t mean the AFO will go away. There will always be cases where patients will benefit from an AFO, but many patients will do well with FES alone,” said Keith McBride, DPT, chief technology officer for Bioness and an adjunct professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation at the University of Maryland, who presented the findings.


O’Dell M, Dunning K, Kluding P, McBride K. Efficacy and prediction of improvement from 42 weeks of functional electrical stimulation in post-stroke drop foot: Data from the FASTEST trial. Presented at the International Society of Prosthetics & Orthotics World Congress, Lyon, France, June 2015.

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