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All I want to do is take a walk.

Bioness devices are clinically proven with the ability to increase range of motion and reduce the risk of falls, while improving confidence and independence.1,2

I'm fortunate enough to own two legs adorned with feet and all the ornaments necessary for an ambulatory life (knees, toes, calves, ligaments, muscles, ankles - Did I miss anything?). I also have an incredibly strong desire to move. I've spent a ridiculous amount of cash trying alternative methods of drop foot treatment, marking me as an obvious sucker in finding a cure.

I don't normally proceed without a lengthy review of said product and I think that's what really gets my goat. I don't have money to throw around on purchases, so believe the sincerity of my desire to take a walk. I don't mean a few miles on the Appalachian Trail (although, that was a goal at one time in my life). I want to stroll through my neighborhood without face-planting on the pavement or make it to the bathroom without having an "accident".

I'm willing to do just about anything to achieve my goal.

As of yet, in my research, I have found a device that could probably solve my needs. Unfortunately, the insurance refuses to seriously consider the time and effort put into the document(s) of application for coverage of the Bioness Go,  a device that uses FES to motivate the leg muscles to obey the brain's message to MOVE.

Twice in twenty years, I have actively advocated for my acquisition of a funded Bioness device. So far, I am told there is no scientific evidence that FES is helpful in discouraging muscle atrophy while exciting those muscles into action.

So, why is the Bioness Go advertised as the solution to foot drop?

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)

The National MS Society frequently fields questions about functional electrical stimulation (FES) — usually in relation to the products WalkAide from Innovative Neurotronics, NESS L300™ from Bioness® and the Odstock Dropped Foot Stimulator from Odstock Medical Limited in the United Kingdom.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a treatment that involves the application of a mild electrical stimulus to a muscle that helps it to move better.  Sometimes, due to nerve damage from conditions such as MS, the muscle no longer receives the correct message from the central nervous system. FES provides an external signal that makes the muscle move.

Overview of FES devices

Some people with MS have difficulty lifting their foot (foot drop) while walking and are at risk to trip and fall. Most MS rehabilitation specialists recommend physical therapy to improve strength and address any stiffness; and, if needed, an ankle foot orthosis (AFO) to manage foot drop. The brace, which is usually made of plastic, is worn around the lower leg and foot. Most AFO’s hold the ankle and foot in a fixed position, but some devices have a hinge that allows movement of the ankle.

Two devices — the WalkAide and NESS L300 — can help alleviate foot drop. They work by sending low-level electrical impulses to the peroneal (sometimes called fibular) nerve, which signals leg muscles to lift the foot. These devices are relatively small, battery powered, and usually worn continuously while someone is up and about. Seen as easier to wear and more convenient than an AFO by many users, they are also a great deal more expensive — about $5,000-$6,000 — and typically not covered by insurance.

A number of studies of FES devices in MS have demonstrated improvement in walking speed in short distance walking tests. 

One could argue the merits of FES all they want, but it works! I've test-driven two models over the years and feel like Santa took away my stocking both times when my insurance refused to believe the validity of the device. 

Hey, people who control insurance policies, FES is an electric current. This electric current is proven to wake up and activate muscles in an atrophied state.  
It works and I am determined to wake up the keepers of the purse strings in supporting the affordable acquisition of an FES device.

Electrical Stimulation Misconceptions Debunked

FES research

The MS Trust has funded two research trials at Salisbury District Hospital. The first investigated the effect of FES on walking and quality of life. This found that FES is effective in improving walking, particularly in enabling greater distances to be achieved. However, exercise alone also made a significant difference to walking and it was concluded that the combination of these treatments may prove to be a more effective means of improving mobility.

A second study involved 64 people with secondary progressive MS assigned to either a group using FES or a group who received physiotherapy exercises. The FES group showed better results on the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure, a scale that measures how well people perform activities of daily living.  During the 18 week study, the FES group also experienced fewer falls than the exercise group.


Regain function with Bioness' innovative solutions designed to help those living with Foot Drop or Hand Paralysis due to conditions such as Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury.

Bioness devices are clinically proven with the ability to increase range of motion and reduce the risk of falls while improving confidence and independence.1,2

L300 Go Lower Cuff

The new L300 Go dramatically improves key features of our award-winning functional electrical stimulation (FES) foot drop device to provide unmatched freedom and independence.

Of course, there are always at least two sides to every story, making an argument somewhat senseless, so let's hear from the other side.

Photo by Ed Tobias

Okay, Monday rant over. Since FES is still available to me via physical therapy, I need to get gussied up for my PT appointment and some time hooked up to the Tens machine. It's electric!

                            Remember this throwback?

Have a great week,
Lisa, Lady with the Cane   



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