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Functional Electrical Stimulation Cycling Exercise in MSers

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  • Functional Electrical Stimulation Cycling Exercise in MSers

    Int J MS Care. 2019 Nov-Dec; 21(6): 258264.
    doi: 10.7224/1537-2073.2018-048
    PMCID: PMC6928578
    PMID: 31889930

    Functional Electrical Stimulation Cycling Exercise in People with Multiple Sclerosis
    Secondary Effects on Cognition, Symptoms, and Quality of Life

    Lara A. Pilutti, PhD, et al


    Functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling is an advanced rehabilitation modality that involves systematic mild electrical stimulation of focal muscle groups to produce leg cycling movement against an adjustable work rate. The present study reports on the efficacy of an assessor-blinded, pilot randomized controlled trial of supervised FES cycling exercise in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) on secondary trial outcomes, including cognition, fatigue, pain, and health-related quality of life.

    Eleven adult participants with MS were randomized to receive FES cycling exercise (n = 6) or passive leg cycling (n = 5) for 24 weeks. Cognitive processing speed was assessed using the Symbol Digit Modalities Test. Symptoms of fatigue and pain were assessed using the Fatigue Severity Scale, the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale, and the short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire. Physical and psychological health-related quality of life were assessed using the 29-item Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale.

    Eight participants (four, FES; four, passive leg cycling) completed the intervention and outcome assessments. The FES cycling exercise resulted in moderate-to-large improvements in cognitive processing speed (d = 0.53), fatigue severity (d = −0.92), fatigue impact (d = −0.45 to −0.68), and pain symptoms (d = −0.67). The effect of the intervention on cognitive performance resulted in a clinically meaningful change, based on established criteria.

    We provide preliminary evidence for the benefits of FES cycling exercise on cognition and symptoms of fatigue and pain. Appropriately powered randomized controlled trials of FES cycling exercise are necessary to determine its efficacy for people with MS.

    Dave Bexfield