Functional Electrical Stimulation Cycling Exercise for People with Multiple Sclerosis

  • Lara A. Pilutti
  • Robert W. MotlEmail author
Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders (J Graves, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders


Purpose of review

There has been substantial interest in the role of exercise for managing impairments, limitations, and disability progression among persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). Despite established benefits of exercise training for persons who have mild-to-moderate MS, the ability to deliver exercise to persons who experience higher disability remains challenging. One promising approach for exercise in this population is functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling. This review provides a summary of the current evidence for FES cycling as an exercise training modality in persons with MS with respect to prescription, safety, tolerability, and acute and chronic effects.

Recent findings

We searched the literature for studies involving FES cycling exercise in persons with MS published in English up until July 2019. Eight studies were retrieved: two studies examined acute effects, two studies examined chronic effects, and four studies reported on both acute and chronic effects of FES cycling exercise. The overall quality of the studies was low, with only one, small, randomized controlled trial (RCT).


There is limited but promising evidence for the application of FES cycling exercise among persons with MS who have moderate-to-severe disability. Participants were capable of engaging in regular FES cycling exercise (~ 30 min, 2–3×/week), with few, mild adverse events experienced. Preliminary evidence from small, mostly uncontrolled trials supports the potential benefits of FES cycling on physiological fitness, walking mobility, and symptoms of fatigue and pain. High-quality RCTs of FES cycling exercise are necessary for providing recommendations for integrating exercise training in the management of advanced MS.


Multiple sclerosis Functional electrical stimulation Exercise Cycling 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, Brain and Mind Research InstituteUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Physical Therapy, University of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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