Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation or NMES uses a device that sends electrical impulses to nerves. This input causes muscles to contract. The electrical stimulation can increase strength and range of motion, and offset the effects of disuse. It is often used to “re-train” or “re-educate” a muscle to function and to build strength after a surgery or period of disuse.
Functional Electrical Stimulation or FES refers to the use of electrical stimulation during a task. This can include walking or using an arm to reach. For example, “foot drop” is a common problem for a child with a neurological injury. The child has difficulty picking up his or her toes when walking. This may result in decreased walking speed, decreased step length, and tripping. FES can be applied to the muscles that lift the foot at the correct time during the walking cycle, which can help the child to lift and clear the foot when walking. This may result in increased strength of those muscles and increased range of motion at the ankle joint. FES can also improve safety, ease, and efficiency with walking.
Why Choose Us?
At Cincinnati Children’s we also have FES devices that use advanced technology during walking and grasping. Two of these devices are the WalkAide and Bioness L300. Specialty training and expertise is needed with these devices. These wireless units also have the technology to provide an appropriately timed stimulation during walking, as opposed to utilizing a manual switch. If the device is a good fit for a child it can take the place of an Ankle-Foot-Orthosis (AFO). This may also eliminate the need for special shoes that fit over an AFO.
Who Can Benefit?
General NMES: Children who need to gain strength or range in a certain muscle group may benefit from this service (e.g. post-surgery or general muscle weakness).
FES: Children who may benefit from the use of these devices include those with foot drop while walking or difficulty grasping. This may include conditions such as stroke, cerebral palsy, brain injury, traumatic brain injury, or incomplete spinal cord injury.
Location of Service
NMES units are available at our inpatient location at our Main (Burnet) Campus, and at outpatient occupational therapy and physical therapy locations.
The monthly FES or neuroprosthetic clinic is an outpatient service that is centrally located at the Medical Office Building (MOB) at our Main (Burnet) Campus. We also have the Bioness L300 and WalkAide devices available for trial at our Drake location.