Download Full Text (915 KB)


Foot drop, the inability to lift the forefoot during gait, is a common symptom of disorders such as diabetes, stroke, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy. This condition makes walking difficult and unsafe, often resulting in stumbles and falls due to lack of ground clearance. The current standard of care is orthotic bracing, which presents donning and doffing challenges, restricts ankle motion, and contributes to social stigma in many parts of the world. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is an alternative approach which uses small amounts of electrical current delivered through skin-surface electrodes to stimulate peripheral nerves, thus generating muscle contraction and ultimately functional movement of a human limb. When packaged in a wearable device with onboard sensors capable of detecting gait phase, stimulation current can be applied to the lower leg to cause the foot to lift during the swing phase of gait. While several FES foot-drop systems are commercially available, they cost upward of $13,000 and provide a level of adjustability and complexity not needed for many conditions. The Messiah FES team is working to develop a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use, and durable electrical stimulation device to restore legged ambulation to children with mobility impairments resulting from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other conditions with similar effects. Our clinical partner is CURE Ethiopia, with our primary contacts being Dr. Tim Nunn and Dr. Laurence Wicks at the CURE Ethiopia Children's Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Funding for this work provided by The Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research.

Publication Date

Spring 2022


Messiah University, Messiah College, Engineer, community, service




The work presented in this document has been provided solely for educational and edification purposes. All materials are composed by students of Messiah University and are not certified by any means. They do not constitute professional consultation and require the examination and evaluation by a certified engineer through any product development process. The contents documented are the produced work by the student design team but do not necessarily represent the as-built or as-assembled state of a complete and tested design; faculty, staff, and other professionals involved in our program may have augmented the student engineering work during implementation, which may not be recorded within this document.

Messiah University, the Collaboratory, nor any party related to the composition of this document, shall be liable for any indirect, incidental, special, consequential, or punitive damages, or any loss of profits or revenues, whether incurred directly or indirectly, or other intangible losses, resulting from your access to or use of the provided material; any content obtained from the provided material, or alteration of its content.

A Modular Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) System for Gait Assistance in Pediatric Cerebral Palsy

Included in

Engineering Commons