Stroke (cerebrovascular accident or CVA) is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 130,000 Americans every year . Moreover, stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability, especially hemiparesis (weakness or paralysis on one side of the body). In fact, roughly 80% of stroke survivors have hemiparesis , which can cause difficulty in speaking, grasping objects, or walking. Therefore, rehabilitation following a stroke resulting in hemiparesis usually involves a combination of occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. Independence in daily living, especially independent walking, is a priority for stroke survivors, so a major objective of rehabilitation post-stroke is to recover the ability to walk normally.
Recovery of walking ability after a stroke is a complicated process, as walking function depends on motor control, muscular strength/power, cardiorespiratory fitness, and other factors . There are many different therapeutic interventions aimed at improving walking function that addresses one or more of these factors. Recently, therapists have increased their use of task-specific training using bodyweight-supported treadmills or robotic gait trainers, but such systems are often complex, expensive, and difficult to use in a timely manner. Gait training is particularly difficult for patients with severely limited walking ability, limiting its effectiveness for the people who may need it most.
Stationary cycling is a tried and true means of exercise and rehabilitation, and it may be just as effective at improving gait as bodyweight-supported or robotic gait training devices . Cycling is an effective therapeutic tool for improving walking post-stroke for a number of reasons:
When functional electrical stimulation (FES) is added to cycling (FES cycling), the benefits of cycling for people post-stroke can be amplified. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of FES cycling for people post-stroke -, including:
FES itself adds the benefits of preventing muscle atrophy, increasing blood flow, re-educating the muscles, and maintaining/increasing joint range of motion. FES-cycling may also provide afferent sensory input to the central nervous system that enhances brain plasticity and cortical motor output, which may further improve functional outcomes in a manner similar to the effect of FES-cycling for people with Parkinson’s disease.
Clearly, combining the benefits of cycling with the benefits of FES can improve the health and functional performance of people who have suffered a stroke. The MyoCycle is an FES-cycling therapy system that combines the benefits of cycling, isokinetic exercise, and FES into one affordable, easy-to-use system. If you or someone you love has had a stroke and is interested in FES-cycling, contact us today to learn how the MyoCycle can meet your needs!
 Barbosa, D.; Santos, C. P.; and Martins, M. 2015. The Application of Cycling and Cycling Combined with Feedback in the Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients: A Review. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease. 24(2):253-273.
 Peng, C.-W. et al. 2011. Review. Clinical Benefits of Functional Electrical Stimulation Cycling Exercise for Subjects with Central Neurological Impairments. Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering. 31(1):1-11.
 Lee, S. Y. et al. 2013. The effects of assisted ergometer training with a functional electrical stimulation on exercise capacity and functional ability in sub-acute stroke patients. Ann Rehabil Med. 37:619.
 Ambrosini, E. et al. 2012. Cycling induced by electrical stimulation improves muscle activation and symmetry during pedaling in hemiparetic patients. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 20:320-330.