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Walking after incomplete spinal cord injury using an implanted FES system: A case report

Elizabeth C. Hardin, PhD, et al.

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We measured the effects of a functional electric stimulation (FES) system on walking after spinal cord injury (SCI). A receiver stimulator and intramuscular electrodes were surgically inserted in a person with incomplete SCI who could stand but not step. We implanted electrodes bilaterally to recruit relevant muscles, customizing the system to the participant. After 12 weeks of gait training with the system, the participant's walking distance increased substantially, his fastest walking speed was 10 times greater, his physiological cost was 5 times less, and he achieved the status of limited community walking. Paralysis can compromise one's ability to have an independent, productive lifestyle. SCI complications can lead to regular and costly hospitalization, and immobility can damage major organ systems. FES systems may postpone or prevent complications and increase the independence of people with SCI by helping them exercise, stand, and move in various environments. Veterans comprise more than 25 percent of all Americans with SCI. This study should contribute to the distribution of FES technology throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system.


Volume 44 Number 3 2007
Pages 333 – 346


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