Normally, when a part of the body needs to move, the brain sends electrical signals through the nervous system. The nerves in this system act like electrical wires, passing the signal along from your brain to your muscles, telling them to contract. Often, in individuals with a neurological or musculoskeletal disability, the wiring to certain muscles may be damaged, meaning they no longer receive these electrical signals from the brain.
Functional Electrical Stimulation, or FES, can help by providing an external signal that bypasses the effected wiring in your nervous system to target these muscles and make them move. It’s medical technique that is used in rehabilitation to stimulate nerves and muscles to contract and perform functional movement.
During FES therapy, electrodes are placed on the skin near the targeted muscle group, and an electrical current is then applied to stimulate the nerves that control the muscles, causing a contraction.
FES Therapy Benefits
The benefits of FES therapy can be life-changing and include, but are not limited to the following:
- Improving muscle strength, range of motion
- Reduction of spasticity
- Prevention of muscle atrophy/weakening
- Increasing local blood circulation, and
- Promoting muscle re-education and neuroplasticity
Muscle Re-education and Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and reorganize itself in response to new experiences, learning, and damage. It stems from the brain’s ability to form new connections between neurons and strengthen existing connections. This mechanism enables the brain to adapt to new information and experiences. It is a key factor in the recovery of brain damage or injury, as the brain can reorganize itself to compensate for lost function.
FES therapy is well-documented in scientific research and has been shown to play a role in the mechanism of neuroplasticity via restoring upper and lower limb voluntary movement in individuals who have suffered brain damage.
ReGrasp FES Device for Hand Rehabilitation
Unfortunately, upper limb paralysis is a harsh reality for many survivors of stroke or other neurological condition. For these patients, even the most routine daily tasks may feel impossible. This is where Rehabtronics’ ReGrasp can help. ReGrasp utilizes FES technology to assist patients who have hand paralysis to perform everyday activities. ReGrasp is a soft, lightweight, garment orthosis that is simple to set-up and use at home every day and is the ideal tool to help regain hand function and to help paralyzed fingers grasp.