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Functional Electrical Stimulation

MetroHealth is proud to be part of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center. In partnership with three other Cleveland institutions, we help people with spinal cord injury, stroke and other neuromuscular impairments regain movement and function they have lost. We also use FES to assist with the reduction of shoulder pain after stroke.

What is FES?

Virtually all body functions are controlled or influenced by the nervous system—the peripheral nerves, spinal cord and brain. FES uses electrical currents to do the work damaged portions of the nervous system can no longer do.

Electrical stimulators can be permanently implanted in the body. These devices are surgically inserted under the skin and connected through insulated wires (electrodes) to the appropriate muscle or nerve. In other cases, electrical stimulation can be applied externally to "exercise" weak muscles and retrain the brain, with the goal of restoring movement after multiple FES treatments.

FES in Use

The Cleveland FES Center develops new FES devices and therapies; therefore, clinical studies are an absolute necessity. The more we know about how these therapies work, the more people we can help with FES. That's research we do at MetroHealth, and we share the results with our partners in the FES Center and with the global medical and scientific community.

These are just a few of the conditions we're researching and treating with FES:

  • Cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy affects body movement; muscle control; and coordination, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills. Research at the FES Center includes studies that combine electrical stimulation with video games to help children with cerebral palsy improve hand movement and coordination.
  • Pain. Research at the FES Center has led to promising new treatments for pain relief in which electrical currents are directed at specific nerves to reduce or completely block pain.
  • Spinal cord injury. FES can be a part of trauma rehabilitation to help people with spinal cord injury move their arms or legs, control organs like their bowel or bladder, and exercise muscles for greater strength and improved circulation. FES devices can be implanted to permanently replace lost functions.
  • Stroke recovery. When a stroke occurs, areas of the brain that control movement can sustain neurological injury. As part of a stroke rehabilitation program, FES can be used as a therapy to improve arm, hand or leg function.

Partners in Developing Innovative Technologies

The Cleveland FES Center is a collaboration of researchers, engineers and clinicians from The MetroHealth System, Case Western Reserve University, the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and University Hospitals of Cleveland.

The MetroHealth System is a vital clinical partner in the research studies performed under the umbrella of the Cleveland FES Center.