FES Training in Aging: interim results show statistically significant improvements in mobility and muscle fiber size.

Authors: H Kern (1,2), S Loefler (2), C Hofer (2), M Vogelauer (1), S Burggraf (2), M Grim-Stieger (1), J Cvecka (3), D Hamar (3), N Sarabon (4), F Protasi (5), A Musarò (6), M Sandri (7), K Rossini (8), U Carraro (8), Sandra Zampieri (2,8)

Source: European Journal Translational Myology - Basic Applied Myology 2012; 22 (1&2): 61-67

Keywords: FES, exercise training, aging, functional analyses, mobility, muscle fiber size


Aging is a multifactorial process that is characterized by decline in muscle mass and performance. Several factors, including reduced exercise, poor nutrition and modified hormonal metabolism, are responsible for changes in the rates of protein synthesis and degradation that drive skeletal muscle mass reduction with a consequent decline of force generation and mobility functional performances. Seniors with normal life style were enrolled: two groups in Vienna (n=32) and two groups in Bratislava: (n=19). All subjects were healthy and declared not to have any specific physical/disease problems. The two Vienna groups of seniors exercised for 10 weeks with two different types of training (leg press at the hospital or home-based functional electrical stimulation, h-b FES). Demografic data (age, height and weight) were recorded before and after the training period and before and after the training period the patients were submitted to mobility functional analyses and muscle biopsies. The mobility functional analyses were: 1. gait speed (10m test fastest speed, in m/s); 2. time which the subject needed to rise from a chair for five times (5x Chair-Rise, in s); 3. Timed –Up-Go- Test, in s; 4. Stair-Test, in s; 5. isometric measurement of quadriceps force (Torque/kg, in Nm/kg); and 6. Dynamic Balance in mm. Preliminary analyses of muscle biopsies from quadriceps in some of the Vienna and Bratislava patients present morphometric results consistent with their functional behaviors. The statistically significant improvements in functional testings here reported demonstrates the effectiveness of h-b FES, and strongly support h-b FES, as a safe home-based method to improve contractility and performances of ageing muscles.


1 Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wilhelminenspital Wien, Austria
2 Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Electrical Stimulation and Physical Rehabilitation, Wien, Austria
3 Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
4 University of Primorska, Science and Research Centre, Institute for Kinesiological Research, Koper, Slovenia
5 CeSI - Center for Research on Ageing & DNI – Dept. Neuroscience and Imaging, University G. d'Annunzio of Chieti, Italy
6 DAHFMO-Unit of Histology and Medical Embryology, IIM, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
7 Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine, Dulbecco Telethon Institute, and Dept. of Biomedical Science, University of Padova, Italy
8 Laboratory of Translational Myology, Dept. Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, Italy