Functional electrical stimulation for foot drop in Multiple Sclerosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect on gait speed

Linda Miller, Angus McFadyen, Anna C. Lord, Rebecca Hunter, Lorna Paul, Danny Rafferty, Roy Bowers, Paul Mattison

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15 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: To review the efficacy of functional electrical stimulation (FES) used for foot drop in people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) on gait speed in short and long walking performance tests. Data Sources: Five databases (Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Embase, MEDLINE, and PubMed) and reference lists were searched. Study Selection: Studies of both observational and experimental design where gait speed data in pwMS could be extracted were included. Data Extraction: Data were independently extracted and recorded. Methodologic quality was assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Data Synthesis: Nineteen studies (described in 20 articles) recruiting 490 pwMS were identified and rated as moderate or weak, with none gaining a strong rating. All studies rated weak for blinding. Initial and ongoing orthotic and therapeutic effects were assessed regarding the effect of FES on gait speed in short and long walking tests. Meta-analyses of the short walk tests revealed a significant initial orthotic effect (t=2.14, P=.016), with a mean increase in gait speed of .05m/s, and ongoing orthotic effect (t=2.81, P=.003), with a mean increase of .08m/s. There were no initial or ongoing effects on gait speed in long walk tests and no therapeutic effect on gait speed in either short or long walk tests. Conclusions: FES used for foot drop has a positive initial and ongoing effect on gait speed in short walking tests. Further fully powered randomized controlled trials comparing FES with alternative treatments are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1435-1452
Number of pages18
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number7
Early online date11 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


  • functional electrical stimulation (FES)
  • gait disorders
  • multiple sclerosis
  • rehabilitation
  • walking
  • gait speed

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