Functional electrical stimulation cycling for managing mobility disability in people with multiple sclerosis

Principal Investigator: Dr. Lara A. Pilutti

Affiliation: University of Ottawa

Year awarded: 2018-2019

Amount Awarded: $294,450

Keywords: Functional electrical stimulation, walking, exercise

Summary:

  • Exercise training has shown to be effective in improving mobility in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) however many studies have not looked at people with substantial walking impairment.
  • Functional electrical stimulation(FES) cycling is one approach where a mild electrical stimulation is applied to the muscle groups to promote leg cycling movement. However, the benefits of using this approach are unknown.
  • The research team will:
    • Determine if 24-weeks of FES cycling improves walking, quality of life and participation in everyday activities for individuals with MS.

Project Description:

One of the most common, debilitating, and poorly managed symptoms experienced by people with MS is difficulty with walking. Exercise training is one approach that has been effective for improving mobility in people with MS. Exercise training for people with MS that have walking impairment requires specialized exercise approaches that are adapted and physically accessible. One such approach is functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling. This innovative, rehabilitation-based therapy provides mild electrical stimulation to affected muscle groups to produce leg cycling movement and enhance the capacity for exercising. The proposed research by Dr. Lara Pilutti will test the immediate and lasting effects of 24-weeks of FES cycling exercise in people with MS who experience difficulty with walking (e.g., use a cane in daily activities). The research team will determine if FES cycling exercise can improve walking, MS symptoms, quality of life, and participation in everyday activities. If successful, this will support the integration of FES cycling exercise within current MS care for managing mobility impairment and other health outcomes. Potentially establishing a long-term, home-based FES cycling represents an innovative rehabilitation strategy that has the potential to significantly advance the management of disability progression, and improve the lives of people with severe MS. The benefits of this therapy extend beyond the affected individual, by minimizing caregiving responsibilities for family members and caregivers, and well as the socioeconomic impact of mobility loss for all Canadians.

Potential Impact: Establish FES cycling as an innovative rehabilitation strategy that has the potential to significantly advance the management of disability progression, and improve the lives of people with severe MS.

Project Status: In Progress

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