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Multiple Sclerosis International
Volume 2016, Article ID 4860315, 4 pages
Research Article

The Efficacy of Functional Electrical Stimulation of the Abdominal Muscles in the Treatment of Chronic Constipation in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Pilot Study

1Birmingham Community Health Care Trust, West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre, Birmingham, UK
2West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre, 91 Oak Tree Lane, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6JA, UK

Received 24 March 2016; Revised 8 April 2016; Accepted 10 April 2016

Academic Editor: Francesco Patti

Copyright © 2016 Christine Singleton et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chronic constipation in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) is common and the current methods of treatment are ineffective in some patients. Anecdotal observations suggest that functional electrical stimulation (FES) of the abdominal muscles may be effective in the management of constipation in these patients. Patients and Methods. In this exploratory investigation we studied the effects of FES on the whole gut transit time (WGTT) and the colonic transit time (CTT). In addition, we evaluated the treatment effect on the patients’ constipation-related quality of life and on the use of laxatives and the use of manual bowel evacuation. FES was given for 30 minutes twice a day for a period of six weeks. Four female patients were studied. Results. The WGTT and CTT and constipation-related quality of life improved in all patients. The patients’ use of laxatives was reduced. No adverse effects of FES treatment were reported. Conclusion. The findings of this pilot study suggest that FES applied to the abdominal muscles may be an effective treatment modality for severe chronic constipation in patients with MS.