Functional electrical stimulation cycling in acute spinal cord injury; a feasibility study

Few studies have investigated the effect of FES cycling on neurological and functional recovery after SCI, particularly in the acute phase.  The aim of this proposed extended pilot study is to assess the feasibility of a randomised controlled trial examining the effectiveness of a 6 weeks FES cycling programme in acute SCI and to gather essential information for the planning of a definitive trial.

Participants will be medically stable inpatients of the QENSIU with incomplete SCI (AIS B, C or D) who are within the first 6 weeks of SCI.  They will be screened to ensure that a tolerable muscle contraction can be achieved with FES.  Baseline measurements (SCI-FAI, SCIM III, ISNCSCI, hand held dynamometry, 10MWT, TUG, TIS, MAS and MTS) will be carried out and they will then be randomly allocated to the control group (usual therapy, N=4) or intervention group (usual therapy plus FES Cycling, N=8).  The FES cycling intervention will consist of 3 training sessions a week for six weeks with each session lasting up to 1 hour.  Up to 12 channels will be used to deliver stimulation to weak muscles in the trunk and lower limbs with optimal parameters set for each participant by a physiotherapist experienced in SCI and FES Cycling.  Measurements will be repeated for the control and intervention groups at 6 weeks and all FES cycling training parameters will be recorded for the intervention group.