Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects 100,000 in the UK, and about 250,000 in the US. Approximately 75% of MS patients have difficulty walking, which is often caused by weakness of the anterior lower muscles. This weakness in the tibialis anterior muscle leads to “foot drop,” a condition noted by the inability to lift the foot properly during ambulation. Thera-Band® Resistance Bands are often used to strengthen the tibialis anterior in patients using a foot drop exercise. Researchers in the UK investigated the effects of electrical stimulation to the anterior tibialis muscle compared to a home exercise program on walking performance in MS patients with foot drop. In the 18 week study, 44 MS patients were randomly assigned to either home exercise with simple equipment including Thera-Band Resistance Bands and cuff weights, or a group receiving functional electrical stimulation (FES). During FES, the muscle is stimulated with each step during ambulation, triggered by a foot switch. The exercise program was designed by physical therapists to improve pelvic and trunk stability, lower limb muscle length and strength, and balance and control of movement. Exercises were performed at home every day for 30 minutes, 1 to 2 times per day.
After the 4 ½ month intervention, the exercise group significantly improved their walking speed and endurance, while the electrical stimulation group did not. As part of an overall exercise program, Thera-Band exercises can help MS patients with foot drop improve their ability to walk.
Barrett CL, et al. 2009. A randomized trial to investigate the effects of functional electrical stimulation and therapeutic exercise on walking performance for people with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler.: 15(4):493-504.