Effects of functional electrical stimulation on the joints of adolescents with spinal cord injury

R. Betz, B. Boden, R. Triolo, M. Mesgarzadeh, E. Gardner, R. Fife

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Nineteen adolescent subjects with complete spinal cord injuries resulting in paraplegia or tetraplegia participated in a functional electrical stimulation (FES) program consisting of computerized, controlled exercise and/or weight bearing. The effects of stimulated exercise and standing/walking on the lower extremity joints were prospectively studied. Plain radiographs and MRIs were obtained prior to and following completion of the exercise and standing and walking stages. In addition, the joints of five subjects were studied with synovial biopsies, arthroscopy, and the analysis of serum and synovial fluid for a 550 000 dalton cartilage matrix glycoprotein (CMGP). Pre-exercise joint abnormalities secondary to the spinal cord injury improved following the stimulation program. None of the subjects developed Charcot joint changes. Upon standing with FES, one subject with poor hip coverage prior to participation developed hip subluxation which required surgical repair. No other detrimental clinical effects occured in the lower extremity joints of subjects participating in an FES program over a 1-year period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Functional electrical stimulation
  • Paraplegia
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Standing
  • Tetraplegia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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