People who have difficulty with or are unable to move their arms and/or legs because of injury to their central nervous systems (nerves in the brain and spinal cord) may benefit from the functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycle. This includes people who have had a spinal cord injury, stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. 

What Is a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Cycle?

FES uses electrical current to make muscles contract by stimulating nerves. Electrodes (special sticky pads) are placed on the arms or legs. The current causes muscles to move the cycle pedals. The cycle’s motor will either help your muscles get tired or provide resistance to make your muscles work even harder. 

What Are the Benefits of Using the FES Cycle?

  • Maintain or improve leg range of motion 
  • Increase your muscle mass 
  • Improve fitness 
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Relax muscle spasms 

Don’t Use the FES Cycle if You:

  • Might be pregnant 
  • Have unhealed leg bone fractures 
  • Have a cardiac pacemaker 
  • Have severe spasticity, osteoporosis or uncontrolled autonomic dysreflexia 

What Will Happen During My FES Cycle Appointments?

  1. Make sure you wear: 
    1. For the leg cycle:  tennis shoes to help attach your feet to the pedals, and loose- fitting shorts or pants with zips or snaps on the sides.
    2. For the arm cycle:  a tank top, sports bra or loose-fitting T-shirt.
  2. Electrodes will be placed on your arms or legs.
  3. Exercise on the cycle for 30 to 45 minutes. 

How Long Will I Use the FES Cycle?

Your therapist will recommend the number of sessions that you should use the FES cycle. This will be based on your therapy goals and results. 

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team.