Functional Electrical Stimulation

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is an innovative approach to treatment that uses short electrical currents in order to initiate muscle contractions, which in turn result in an actively controlled movement. The electrical currents are directed to the nerves via surface electrodes on the skin. By placing electrodes on different areas of the upper leg, the sequenced stimulation causes muscle contractions that induce recognizable movement patterns, for example the cycling movements while riding a bike. FES has a wide range of applications and can be used in patients suffering from muscle loss due to a large variety of causes such as paraplegia, stroke, or neurological diseases.

The most commonly used set-up for FES treatment in people with paraplegia is the combination of FES with a cycling ergometer. FES is responsible for the muscle contractions that make a full pedaling cycle with the legs. In most cases, the large muscle groups in the upper leg (m. Quadriceps, m. Hamstrings and m. Gluteus) are stimulated and a computer manages the stimulation parameters and ensures a smooth pedaling cycle. Research has shown that FES-stimulated cycling leads to an improved circulation of the lower extremities, which is beneficial in the prevention of complications such as pressure ulcers. Research also shows an increase in the contraction speed, amount of muscle tissue, oxygen uptake and endurance of stimulated muscles. In addition to favorable physiological effects, FES cycling is also conducive to the mental condition of the patient. The movement causes an increase in Beta-endorphins and the experience of patients to see their own legs moving again is very satisfying. Electrostimulation has also been shown to have a positive effect on reducing spasticity in the affected limbs.

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The BerkelBike

BerkelBike is one of the most important partners of PULSE Racing and also the supplier of our racing bike. The Dutch company is currently among the top producers of bicycles with FES support for consumer use.

BerkelBike produces the eponymous BerkelBike, a tricycle that is specially designed for people with paraplegia. The bike is driven by the arms and legs of the cyclist. The movement is initiated by the arms which forms the primary drive and works the same as with a normal handbike for wheelchair users. The movement of the legs is produced through the application of FES, which allows people with a paraplegia to move their legs actively. The BerkelBike can be used both indoors and outdoors and is therefore suitable for training as well as a means of transportation.