FES: Not Rocket Science
The September issue highlighted two similar but very different methods for keeping our paralyzed legs active

[“E-Stim for Wellness”]. Both are effective — FES bikes maintain muscle and circulation, while FES rowing provides for muscle and bone growth as well as all-body cardiovascular fitness. The FES bike costs around $18,000 and the FES rower around $3,500. This cost structure means that most people with SCIs cannot afford to have an FES bike in their home but may be able to go to a local rehab center to reap the benefits. The FES rower is commercially available at a more affordable price. However, at the current time, the portable FES unit that is used is imported from the U.K. and is not FDA approved (it must come in under a research protocol or prescription via a hospital or doctor).

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have changed my life 12 years post-injury by enrolling in the FES Rowing Study at Spaulding Rehab Hospital six years ago. Dr. Taylor, the lead researcher who knew nothing about SCI, immediately recognized the benefits of FES rowing when it was demonstrated to him by a group who started it in the U.K.

In general terms, FES is not rocket science, and rehab hospitals should be at the very least introducing portable stim units (there are thousands online) to SCI survivors so that they have the opportunity to maintain muscle and improve circulation from the comfort of their own homes.
Dave Estrada
Boston, Massachusetts

Barry’s Spirit
Thanks for publishing the Dartmouth article about Barry [“Barry Corbet: Nothing Missed, No Regrets,” September 2013]. Barry was one of “them.” I can’t really define “them” very well, but whenever I have met one, I feel the most joy