Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Electric Stimulation Therapy; Paraplegia


Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects approximately 7600 to 11000 people per year, and alters every aspect of the individuals' lives. SCI primarily affects young Caucasian adults. The majority are between 16 to 30 years old, with the average age being 19. Motor vehicle accidents account for 35% to 40% of SCI cases reported, with violence in close second at 25%. Currently, the highest neurological category is of complete paraplegia followed by incomplete quadriplegia. SCIs often cause many complications due to decreased physical activity and changes in bodily functions.

Among treatment options, functional electrical stimulation (FES) is used to restore a variety of physical and physiological functions. Some of the most promising and controversial research lies in the areas of bowel and bladder elimination, gait and exercise training, and also walking. It functions by stimulating the peripheral nerve, sending electrical impulses through electrodes placed on the skin in order to generate a muscular contraction. The goal of FES is to generate purposeful, goal-oriented movement, aimed at completing a task. Based on past research, FES has shown to benefit paralyzed individuals by reducing secondary complications, improving physiological responses, producing bone and muscle changes, and increasing cardiovascular fitness.

The purpose of this literature review is to determine whether or not FES produces beneficial functional movement in paraplegics. The procedure used to perform this study will be a literature review based on a collection of journal entries, articles, statistics, and experimentations of scientists, various health professionals, and other researchers.