Published: 02 November, 2018 | Volume 2 - Issue 3 | Pages: 080-086
Non-invasive electrical stimulation in the form of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and functional electrical stimulation (FES) has been documented as an optional assessment and treatment technology for decades. In contrast, translation of the robust clinical evidence supporting the effectiveness of FES’ enhancement of muscle force generation and adding to the recovery of motor control following damage to the brain appears limited. Furthermore, enabling many patients to regain locomotion ability though utilization of FES as a standard care option in rehabilitation medicine remains unmet. This perspective evolved over years of collaborative experience in clinical research, teaching, and patient care having a common goal of advancing patients’ rehabilitation outcomes. The clinical successes are supported by repeated evidence of FES utilization across the life span, from toddlers to elders, from hospitals’ critical care units to the home environment. The utilization include managing multiple deficits associated with the musculo-skeletal, neurological, cardio-pulmonary, or peripheral vascular systems. These successes were achieved in no small part because of the technological advancement leading to today’s wearable wireless FES systems that are being used throughout the continuum of rehabilitation care. However, failures to benefit from FES utilization are likewise numerous, collectively depriving most patients from using the technology to maximize their rehabilitation gains. The most critical failures are both clinical and technological. Whereas numerous barriers to NMES and FES utilization have been published, the focus of this perspective is on barriers not considered to date.