News Release

Kessler Foundation researchers find foot drop stimulator beneficial in stroke rehab

Application during task-specific movement for 4 weeks can retrain neuromuscular system

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Kessler Foundation

Karen Nolan, Kessler Foundation

image: Dr. Nolan is a research scientist in Human Performance & Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation. She conducts clinical studies of new technologies in the rehabilitation of people disabled by stroke and brain injury. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ. September 23, 2014. Kessler Foundation scientists have published a study showing that use of a foot drop stimulator during a task-specific movement for 4 weeks can retrain the neuromuscular system. This finding indicates that applying the foot drop stimulator as rehabilitation intervention may facilitate recovery from this common complication of stroke. "EMG of the tibialis anterior demonstrates a training effect after utilization of a foot drop stimulator," was published online ahead of print on July 2 by NeuroRehabilitation (doi:10.3233/NRE-141126). The authors are Rakesh Pilkar, PhD, Mathew Yarossi, MS, and Karen J. Nolan, PhD, of Human Performance & Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation.

Foot drop, a common sequela of hemiplegia caused by stroke, decreases mobility and limits activities of daily living. "Compensatory strategies have a negative effect on gait pattern," noted Dr. Nolan, research scientist. "While use of an ankle-foot orthosis can improve speed and function, it is not designed to restore muscle function. We looked at whether stimulation of the peroneal nerve during walking would retrain the temporal activation of the tibialis anterior muscle."

Four participants more than 3 months post right-sided stroke completed 10 walking trials (5 with and 5 without stimulator) at baseline and after 4 weeks of using a commercial device (WalkAide, Innovative Neurotronics, Austin TX). "We found a potential training effect in all participants. These results indicate that use of the stimulator may facilitate recovery of muscle function."


This study was funded by Kessler Foundation.

Dr. Pilkar's fellowship is funded by a NIDRR AART grant (143298). Dr. Nolan is co-Investigator for the NIDRR-funded Northern New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury System and is a past recipient of a NIDRR ARRT grant in Biomechanics and Outcomes and a NIDRR Mary E. Switzer Merit Fellowship Grant.

About Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation

The mission of Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation is to improve mobility, independence and quality of life for individuals with sensory and motor deficits caused by neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. Researchers develop methods to restore mobility, recover function and control or alleviate fatigue. Robotic technology, functional electrical stimulation, imaging and metabolic measurements are among the tools utilized. Researchers are affiliated with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit


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