Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Assisted Walking: Enhancement of Walking Function After Stroke


Phase 4 Results N/A

Trial Description

The purpose of this study is to determine if a form of exercise,known as electrical stimulation can improve walking function and other important health outcomes. The hypothesis is that electrical stimulation can enhance the ability to walk for stroke survivors who are unable to walk on their on their own.

Detailed Description

A stroke is a devastating life event, that can result in permanent disability. Many people who survive a stroke will experience paralysis on one side of their body. The muscles in one leg may become weaker or stiff to the point that the person can barely walk. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is an intervention that applies short current pulses to muscles and causes them to contract. Previous work done by our team has used FES in the spinal cord injured population to help restore functions such as walking and grasping by contracting groups of paralyzed muscles in an orchestrated manner. This study seeks to explore whether a thrice weekly FES-assisted walking intervention for a 8 week period can stimulate or improve walking ability in individuals with severe lower extremity paralysis secondary to a stroke. This will subsequently promote opportunities for enhanced social participation and quality of life i.e. enhanced balance, increased independence of activities of daily living etc. for stroke consumers. Comparison: 40 individuals with severe hemiplegia will be randomized to either a thrice weekly control (false) FES training regimen OR a thrice weekly intervention (true) FES training regimen. Prior to randomization, participants will be stratified according to their ability to ambulate (walk). This study will determine if FES can improve or enhance walking ability associated with stroke after 8 weeks of training, and after 4-month follow-up period.



  • Compex Motion Stimulator Device
    Intervention Desc: 'False' FES
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 2
    Description: The intervention group will receive 'true' FES
    ARM 2: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 1
    Description: Participants will be randomized to either an intervention arm where they will receive 'true' FES and the other control arm where they will receive 'false' FES. The sham group will receive 'false' FES.

Trial Design

  • Allocation: Randomized
  • Masking: Single Blind (Subject)
  • Purpose: Treatment
  • Endpoint: Efficacy Study
  • Intervention: Parallel Assignment


Type Measure Time Frame Safety Issue
Primary The ability of FES-Assisted Walking to stimulate or improve walking ability using a dichotomous outcome i.e. yes/no stimulation or improvement of walking ability on a two-minute walk test. Test performed weekly during 8-week period as well as at 2 month and 6 month time point.
Secondary Assessment of balance by completing four tests i.e. move from a seated to a standing position, completion of activities of daily living tasks such as moving from a bed to a wheelchair, standing with eyes opened and closed. Baseline, 2 month and 6 month period.
Secondary Bone density at hip, spine, proximal tibia and distal femur using dual-energy xray absorptiometry Baseline, 2-month and 6-month
Secondary Assess functional abilities by performing various tasks using our leg and foot as well as your ability to perform functional tasks such as eating, grooming and bathing. Baseline, 2-month and 6-month time points.