Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bikes, or more formally referred to as FES Cycling systems, have emerged as a transformative device for rehabilitation and fitness, particularly following a neurological condition resulting in lower limb weakness or paralysis.
They have been shown to be effective for long term fitness following a spinal cord injury, stroke, MS and other neurological conditions.
Passive motion is commonly used in rehabilitation and is better than nothing, but by delivering synchronised FES to leg muscles at the correct time, the user can exercise actively – even if their legs are paralysed.
In this article, we delve into the top five advantages of employing FES bikes in long term rehabilitation.
Improved Strength and Endurance
Neurological conditions will affect the person’s ability to consciously contract and control their muscles.
This partial or complete paralysis may mean the person must use a wheelchair and even this is not ideal for long term health.
One of the biggest benefits of using FES bikes is the improvement in muscle strength and endurance.
We all understand that if we do not or cannot exercise, our muscles will become weaker, lose size and over the long term this has metabolic consequences; bone health deteriorates and we can become more prone to diabetes and related conditions.
By stimulating the leg muscles to contract with electrical impulses, FES bikes can help individuals to exercise actively and build strength in their legs, despite paralysis.
Additionally, as we will learn, FES bikes can help to improve cardiovascular fitness, which can have a range of health benefits.
Increased Range of Motion and Flexibility
Through the contraction of muscles synchronised with the pedalling of the bike, the FES bikes are capable of preserving or augmenting the joint’s range of motion and boosting flexibility.
This proves particularly advantageous for individuals suffering from conditions like spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or stroke, which often lead to muscle stiffness or spasticity.
The lack of normal flexion and extension of legs due to being seated in a wheelchair can result in contractures and movement limitations, which, once established, pose a challenge to resolve.
Regular use of anFES bike aids in maintaining the normal range of motion in the knees, hips, and ankles. For those without complete paralysis and with prospects to walk again FES bikes can enhance overall mobility, consequently facilitating daily activities.
Promoting Cardiovascular Well-being One of the primary advantages of utilising FES bikes for rehabilitation and fitness is the enhancement of cardiovascular health for the long run.
The FES bikes provide an exercise regime that is of low impact, leading to improved blood circulation and peripheral flow, consequently reducing the risk of heart ailments and other cardiovascular disorders.
Furthermore, FES bikes can bolster endurance and stamina, which can enhance overall fitness and the quality of life.
Whether you are on the road to recovery from an injury or seeking to augment your fitness in spite of a chronic disease, FES bikes serve as an excellent tool to sustain or strengthen your cardiovascular well-being.
Reduced Pain and Swelling
A key advantage of utilising FES bikes in rehabilitation for certain users is the potential to lessen pain and swelling (oedema) in the limbs.
By enhancing circulation, FES bikes can decrease inflammation and fluid build-up.
This proves particularly beneficial for those recovering from injuries or surgical procedures, as it can expedite the healing process and lessen discomfort.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, FES bikes assist in improving joint mobility and flexibility, which can thereby contribute to alleviating muscle and joint stiffness and pain.
Improved Mental Health
In addition to the evidence-based, physical benefits, using FES bikes can also have a positive impact on mental health and well-being.
Exercise has been shown to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
For individuals recovering from injuries or illnesses, the ability to exercise and improve their physical health can also have a positive impact on their mental health and overall well-being.
FES bikes can provide a safe and effective way to exercise, even for individuals with limited mobility or other physical limitations.
The most important thing to understand about exercise is that we have to stick at it.
It is something that we have to commit to for life, and should not be viewed as something which is a short term fix.
All humans ideally need to exercise but this becomes even more important when an injury or condition forces us to adopt a more or less passive lifestyle.
An FES Cycling system at home allows us a means of exercising safely and effectively despite our health condition.
Anatomical Concepts UK Ltd have worked with FES Cycling systems for more then 15 years and have supported many users to work with this technology in homes, hospitals and clinics.
They believe that overall, FES bikes represent a safe and effective way of exercising at home despite limb paralysis or weakness.
Users see the benefit of preserving their health to the greatest degree so that potentially they may be better placed to take advantage of future breakthroughs in rehabilitation or curative steps that might arise.
If you are interested in learning more about FES Cycling or the benefits of training with FES at home or in the clinic you can request a demo at https://www.anatomicalconcepts.com/fes-products
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