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Regional Functional Electrical Stimulation Service

What the service does
Who provides the service
How to access the service
Opening hours
Contact details
Useful links

What the service does

The Regional Functional Electrical Stimulation Service provides assessment, provision and review of functional electrical stimulation devices, to improve walking for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Functional Electrical Stimulation is a non-invasive treatment, which uses small electrical charges to produce muscle activity or a muscle contraction. It is used to help people with MS with their walking when they have ‘drop foot’. It produces a muscle contraction that helps lift the foot up when walking.

The Functional Electrical Stimulation Service is for people who have a:

  • Confirmed diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • and are 16 or over
  • and are under the care of an NHS neurologist
  • and are at risk of tripping and falling when walking due to difficulty controlling the movement of the foot

In clinic, we use a small battery powered machine, which is attached to electrodes that are placed on a person’s skin. An electrical stimulation is applied to the nerve or muscle, this can feel like a ‘pins and needles’ sensation. This causes the muscle to contract (or work) producing movement and lifting the foot.

If Functional Electrical Stimulation is helpful, a device may be given on loan for the person to use at home.

Functional Electrical Stimulation needs a high level of commitment from users to make sure it is set up as well as possible, to learn how to use it, and to care for their body and the device. This usually involves up to 6 appointments in the first year and annual reviews for as long as they are still using the device.

The Functional Electrical Stimulation device remains the property of the Functional Electrical Stimulation Service and service users are required to return the device when requested.

Who provides the service

The Functional Electrical Stimulation Service is provided by neuro-physiotherapists with specialist training in Functional Electrical Stimulation.

How to access the service

Referrals are only accepted from consultant led neurology clinics, MS specialist nurses and NHS physiotherapists with expertise in treating neurological conditions.

People should have already seen a physiotherapist with expertise in treating neurological conditions and have tried ankle splints before being considered for Functional Electrical Stimulation.

Opening hours

Monday to Friday, 8.30-16.30 excluding bank holidays.

Contact details

Functional Electrical Stimulation Service
Physiotherapy Department
Belfast City Hospital
Lisburn Road

Tel: 028 961 53131

Useful links

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) | MS Trust
Treating drop foot using electrical stimulation – Understanding NICE guidance |

Locations where this service is delivered

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