Sticky electrodes and my FES

Sticky electrodes and my FES

Brand new electrodes 2″ square platinum blue

I started using a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) in January 2014. It has been my game changer. Without the sticky electrodes and my FES I would probably have to use a wheelchair around the house. Hold on a moment, I would definitely have to use a wheelchair. Instead I have a different life.

Sticky electrodes and my FES

I have chronic foot drop and leg drop in my left leg. I cannot lift my leg and I have bad balance. My face became very familiar with the floor at home before the FES was fitted. Even now I am not immune from falls and still take a tumble.

I use an FES supplied by the NHS

Sticky electrodes and my FES

Old sticky electrodes ready to be replaced, look at the edges

So I use sticky electrodes, the square ones are the best. As well as the electrodes there are wires, heel pressure pad and the magic box. It’s fair to say the whole FES thing is a bit of a faff when compared to the private ones which are just a cuff.

Some comments I have heard

“I can’t get the hang of it”.  “I can’t put the pads on in the right place”.  “The electrodes were better at sticking to my trousers than my skin”.  “Rinsing the electrodes every day is such a performance”.

I use two pairs of electrodes

One pair is on my leg just below the knee and another pair is on my thigh.

How do I to make it a success?

First of all I place the electrodes on my leg, connect the wires and test. This is to ensure the muscles are being stimulated and that there is no tingle because the positions are not quite right. If that is OK I use surgical tape and stick the wires over the connecting plugs to my leg.

Next comes the ingenious bit.

I put Tubigrip on my leg over the electrodes. This prevents my trousers rolling the electrode into a tube and making it completely useless. I then stick each end of the tubigrip to my leg with surgical tape. This might sound daft but it also helps to shave my  leg.

The tricky bit

It has to be getting the power setting right. No doubt you have discovered that the level of muscular fatigue will determine the power setting. It will be so much easier to get it right when the dual channel FES has digital controls.

So there you are. The secrets are practice, patience, Surgical Tape and Tubigrip.

2 responses to “Sticky electrodes and my FES”

  1. Richard Leakey says:

    Hoping to be considered for FES but core muscles not good enough at the moment.

    • Hello Richard.

      It really is worth the effort of building up the core muscles.

      When you have an FES then will find that you simply take more exercise because you can. Without an FES I would struggle to walk from one room to the next in the house. With it I am talking of walking 1 km in two 500 metre bursts.

      Good luck,


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