The objective was to obtain first insights into the kinematic and kinetic walking patterns resulting from an implanted functional electrical stimulation system in subjects with a drop foot caused by stroke.
Four subjects who experienced a stroke were chosen due to a comparatively long/short time after surgery and young/old at the stroke event were examined retrospectively with gait analysis. Kinematics and kinetics of normal walking were assessed in comparison with and without activated drop foot stimulation.
In general, an improvement regarding spatiotemporal parameters as a result of the stimulation could be observed. Walking speed was increased by 45 % and stride length by 22 % after a mean usage of 7 (2–14) months, whereas both younger subjects improved significantly more. Dorsiflexion increased in all subjects on average from 1.3° to 11.6° during initial contact as well as from 11.3° to 17.0° during mid-swing and therefore implies an advantage of around 5.5 inch foot clearance. Pathologic elements like knee hyperextension during loading response and mid-stance, leg circumduction during swing or the increased hip flexion of the contralateral leg during mid-stance could be in general adjusted with stimulation.
An implantable functional electrical stimulation system seems to be a promising treatment of drop feet following strokes. Further clinical investigations are necessary to confirm these first insights.