Goal: The paper discusses walking performance and the related patient-training of the non-invasive Parastep (also known as Parastep-1) Functional Electrical Stimulation System.
Regulatory status: The Parastep system was approved in 1993 by the FDA (USA) for walking by complete and near-complete paraplegics with upper-motor-neuron T1 to T12 spinal cord injuries, having no motor function and no sensation below their spinal cord lesion. The PARASTEP system was approved by U.S. Medicare and Medicaid for reimbursement in 2004.
Walking performance: In tests on 14 patients trained in walking with the Parastep system at Vicenza Rehabilitation Center, the patients averaged 444 meters per walk at 14.5 meters/minute. Several patients of the first author in the USA and of the second author in Italy have covered and documented one mile per walk. The first author experienced a 62 years old patient, 40 years post-injury, stand up stand up 6 minutes from start of training and take a few steps already on 3rd day.
Medical benefits: Medical benefits of Parastep use beyond those of walking include increase of blood flow at below the spinal cord lesion by an average of 56% (Tests performed at the University of Miami School of Medicine. The same University of Miami study reports positive improvements in several other physiological responses and in psychological measures. Improvements in bone density are also reported
Patient training: Although performance is a function of age, general health and time from injury to start of Parastep training, the training protocol is of major importance regardless of patient age, general health and time from injury. Therefore, training methodology is a major aspect of this paper.
Access is provided in several references below to videos on walking performance and training