Life without a FES would be unthinkable

I have SPMS and seriously disabled with foot drop. I was fitted with a Functional Electrical Stimulator (FES) in December 2014. A consultant from Queens Square, London suggested that it would help my walking. At first I found it very fiddly to setup and this did not inspire me with confidence. Within a few days I had mastered positioning the electrodes. There were a couple of other teething troubles but within a couple of weeks I realised life without a FES would be unthinkable.

Life without an FES

How a FES helps with lifting the foot and taking a step

Life before the FES

In 2007 I realised that I was falling over because of foot drop and this was an MS issue. Pretending it did not exist was not an option. A walking stick was not a realistic solution. The wife found an answer, it was called a MuSmate.

MuSmate

The MuSmate is an elastic arrangement. It lifted the front of my foot sufficiently far off the ground so that I was much less likely to trip over uneven paving stones. Also I could use it to help lift my leg when going upstairs. I started wearing it in 2008. Some people thought it was a fashion statement and did not understand its true function.

MS Progression

Over the next 6 years I continued working. I kidded myself nothing was changing but things were progressing inexorably. The MuSmate did not help my balance. January 2012 my life changed, I was medically retired.

Dual channel FES

DuaL channel FES

Life without a FES would be unthinkable

A single channel FES was fitted on Tuesday 16th December 2014. The next day I was in London and it broke down. It was not stimulating the muscle to lift up the front of the foot; I could hardly walk.

I cursed and struggled round to the neurological clinic in Queens Square and muttered in a disconsolate voice ‘It does not work’. The physiotherapist told me what I had done wrong, sorted me out and sent me on my way.

Life with a FES

This actually made me realise how much I needed it. A year later and I am completely dependent upon it. Yes it does take a few minutes to put on and take off but life without my FES would be unthinkable. It has improved my balance, I’m more confident. I can walk several hundred yards using my rollator Nowadays I hardly ever fall over; it used to be at least twice a week Without it my left foot is totally useless.

My advice

If you have drop foot and do not have a FES then definitely find out if it could help you. Tell your MS consultant or MS nurse that you want to be assessed. Do not be fobbed of, it is a relatively cheap solution that works.

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