Clinical evaluation of computerized functional electrical stimulation after spinal cord injury: A multicenter pilot study

K. T. Ragnarsson, S. Pollack, W. O'Daniel, R. Edgar, J. Petrofsky, M. S. Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


This study investigated the safety and effects of computerized functional electrical stimulation (FES) on spinal cord injured individuals. Nineteen subjects two to ten years postinjury, with clinically complete motor and sensory lesions between C4 and T10, participated. All subjects met the specific selection criteria. None had received lower extremity electrical stimulation before. In phase I, subjects received surface electrical stimulation to the quadriceps muscle bilaterally for resistive knee extension 3 times a week for four weeks. The resistance and number of completed lifts was recorded daily. In phase II, 36 sessions provided sequential surface electrical stimulation to the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus muscles bilaterally in order for subjects to pedal a lower extremity ergometer with resistance varied depending on completed run time. For each session, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and work performance were recorded. Test done before and after the training program included fasting blood chemistries, 24-hour urinalysis, arm-crank ergometer stress testing, and midthigh girth measurement. Results indicate that this form of FES is safe, that quadriceps strength and endurance is increased, that endurance for ergometer pedaling is increased, and that there may be a training effect as more work is done at a similar heart rate and systolic blood pressure and as muscle bulk is increased. The FES effect on cardiovascular conditioning and general health requires further research to precisely determine its benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-677
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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