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Physiother Theory Pract. 2013 Jan;29(1):31-40. doi: 10.3109/09593985.2012.674087. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

A feasibility study to investigate the clinical application of functional electrical stimulation (FES), for dropped foot, during the sub-acute phase of stroke - A randomized controlled trial.

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The University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, UK.



Functional electrical stimulation (FES), for dropped foot, has been shown to have positive benefits in chronic stroke. It has been suggested that similar benefits may be seen earlier after stroke. The aim of this feasibility study was to evaluate the trial methodology of undertaking a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of FES in sub-acute stroke.


This was a randomized feasibility study with non-blinded outcomes at 6 and 12 weeks. Sixteen sub-acute stroke in-patients with dropped foot were randomized into two groups (control, n =  7; intervention, n  =  9). Both groups received routine gait re-education and an orthotic device, the control group used an ankle foot orthosis and the intervention group used FES. Outcome measures included gait velocity and cadence, Functional Ambulation Classification, Visual Analogue Scale of perception of walking, and the Stroke Impact Scale.


Eligibility criteria developed for inclusion of participants in the trial were appropriate. Set-up of FES during sub-acute stroke was feasible but more challenging than with chronic patients. Outcome measures were suitable and have informed the choice of measures for future work.


It is feasible to undertake a trial evaluating FES during the sub-acute phase of recovery after stroke. A larger RCT is required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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