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Muscle stimulation used to increase mobility

15th December 2005

Walking functions in sufferers of spinal injuries were improved with the use of electrical stimulation, say scientists at the University of Toronto.

Using functional electrical stimulation (FES) therapy can help some patients who have previously been warned that their conditions would not improve, according to NewsfromRussia.

Stimulating the muscles through controlled bursts of electricity on the skin, the therapy is said to help with step frequency as well as stride length and speed.

"This is a group of patients in which recovery is not expected, we got them on a treadmill and worked with them and 18 weeks later we saw quite a considerable improvement," explained Professor Milos Popovic, one of the researchers involved in the study.

A combination of FES therapy and intensive physiotherapy helped some of the patients to relearn how to trigger the muscles in their legs, confirmed Mr Popovic.

He acknowledged that this newfound mobility did decrease once the therapy was stopped but said that levels were better than before and that the device would lead to greater breakthroughs in the future.