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Screening and Habituation of Functional Electrical Stimulation-Leg Cycle Ergometry for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury: A Pilot Study

Tawashy, Amira E. MSc; Eng, Janice J. PhD; Krassioukov, Andrei V. MD, PhD; Warburton, Darren E.R. PhD; Ashe, Maureen C. PhD; Hung, Chihya MSc

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: December 2008 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - pp 164-170
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e31818de56f

Objectives: To document the screening process and develop the habituation procedures prior to commencing a functional electrical stimulation leg cycle ergometry (FES-LCE) exercise program for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Design: This was a prospective descriptive study of screening and habituation for FES-LCE exercise for people with chronic SCI (injury duration longer than one year).

Setting: Tertiary rehabilitation center.

Participants: Thirteen subjects with SCI (mean years since injury, 7; mean age, 34.8 years; injury range, C4-T10; 7 males).

Main Outcome Measures: Time to attain target cycle speed for 30 continuous minutes.

Results: Six of the 13 subjects were not eligible to start the FES-LCE habituation program because of previous fragility fracture, excessive spasticity, pain, autonomic dysreflexia, or lack of electrical stimulation response because of lower motor neuron damage in individuals with low thoracic injuries (T11-12). Time to attain target cycle speed for 30 continuous minutes ranged from 30 to 779 minutes (1–31 training sessions).

Conclusions: Almost half of the individuals interested in participating in the FES-LCE exercise program did not pass the screening phase. Although the habituation phase was time-consuming for most of the participants who were able to use the FES-LCE, all reported few adverse effects to using the device once they completed this phase of training.

Rehabilitation Research Lab (A.E.T., J.J.E., A.V.K., M.C.A., C.H.), GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Vancouver, BC; Department of Physical Therapy and Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences (A.E.T., J.J.E., M.C.A.), University of British Columbia, BC; International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD) (A.E.T., J.J.E., A.V.K., D.E.R.W.), Vancouver, BC; and Department of Experimental Medicine (D.E.R.W.), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

Address correspondence to: Janice Eng, E-mail:

This material was presented in part at the 2nd National Spinal Cord Injury Conference, Toronto, Canada; October 27–28, 2006.

© 2008 Neurology Section, APTA