Implantable FES system for upright mobility and bladder and bowel function for individuals with spinal cord injury

T. E. Johnston, R. R. Betz, B. T. Smith, B. J. Benda, M. J. Mulcahey, R. Davis, T. P. Houdayer, M. A. Pontari, A. Barriskill, G. H. Creasey

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46 Scopus citations


Study design: Postintervention. Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of the Praxis multifunctional implantable functional electrical stimulation (FES) system (Neopraxis Pty. Ltd, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia) to provide standing and stepping ability and bladder and bowel management for individuals with motor complete thoracic level spinal cord injuries (SCI). Setting: Pediatric orthopedic hospital specializing in SCI. Subjects: Three males, ages 17 and 21 years, with motor-complete thoracic level SCI and intact lower motor neurons to the muscles targeted for stimulation. Methods: Each subject was successfully implanted with the Praxis FES system. All three subjects received electrodes for upright mobility and the first two subjects received additional electrodes for stimulated bladder and bowel management. Following training, subjects were evaluated in their ability to use FES for nine mobility activities. Acute and chronic experiments of the effect of stimulation on bowel and bladder function were also performed. Results: All three subjects could independently stand up from the wheelchair and could walk at least 6m using a swing through gait pattern. Two subjects were able to independently perform swing through gait for 6 min and one subject was able to independently ascend and descend stairs. Suppression of reflex bladder contractions by neuromodulation (subject 1) and stimulated contractions of the rectum (subject 2) were observed in acute experiments. When stimulation was applied over the course of several weeks, a positive effect on bowel function was measured. Stimulated bladder contractions were not achieved. Conclusion: The feasibility of using the Praxis FES system for upright mobility and aiding aspects of bladder and bowel function was demonstrated with three subjects with thoracic level SCI. Sponsorship: This study was funded by Shriners Hospitals for Children Grant #8530.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-723
Number of pages11
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Functional electrical stimulation
  • Neuromodulation
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Standing
  • Stepping


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