Funktionelle Elektrostimulation

International FES Centre®

International FES Centre®

The International FES Centre® was established in 2018 and offers access to inpatients and outpatients for neurological and musculoskeletal rehabilitation.

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FES at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC)


In 1992, functional electrical stimulation (FES) has been introduced as a therapeutic intervention at the SPC and has been an integral component the rehabilitation of inpatients and outpatients ever since. All requirements specified within the general considerations of the International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society (IFESS) (Education – IFESS) are implemented in the rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injury and in neurorehabilitation in general.

It comprises the integration of all up-to-date technologies in the domain of electrical stimulation. This implies the application of functional electrical stimulation (FES), neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), direct muscle stimulation and cervical/lumbar transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS). Moreover, various types of robotics and exoskeletons with integrated FES come into play.

The combination of conventional physical and occupational therapy modalities with simultaneous electrical stimulation is carried out according to the standards defined by the International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society (IFESS).

The following electrical stimulation treatment modalities are offered:

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)

What does“functional electrical stimulation” mean?

FES Hirn.png

FES is the treatment method which implies the application of electrical impulses instead of nerve stimuli to the muscle. It leads to the contraction of one or of multiple muscles. Electrical stimulation can help to establish a new functional balance, either by supporting or by replacing a certain function.

When using electrical stimulation, electrodes are placed on the skin and then used to create an electrical field. Under the influence of this To conduct the electrical stimulation, an artificial electrical field is created through the application of electrodes on the skin. The nerves and/or muscles underlying this electrical field are stimulated and the muscle will contract. The so-called muscle contraction that is being elicited through electrical stimulation is similar to a physiological (i.e. normal) muscle contraction.

There exist two types of damages to the central nervous system: the damage to the upper motoneuron and the damage to the lower motoneuron.

Electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles

In people with a damaged upper motoneuron, the nerves below the level of the lesion are stimulated. In people with a lower motoneuron damage, the affected muscles are stimulated directly.

* acute/sub-acute £ 6 months; *chronic ³ 6 months after injury/disease
#acute/sub-acute £ 2 years; #chronic ³ 2 years after injury/disease

Reference: Upper and Lower Motoneuron Lesions in Tetraplegia - Diagnostic and Therapeutic Implications of Electrical Stimulation, ISBN 978-7833-408-7


We conduct studies aiming to further improve the current body of evidence and prove the effectiveness of the method. In these clinically relevant studies, we investigate the effect of electrical stimulation regarding structural and functional changes in people with spinal cord injury and in individuals with neurological impairments. The objective is to demonstrate the relevance of the intervention and to implement it as a treatment standard in the long term. The uttermost goal is to improve the quality of life of people with spinal cord injury or of people living with a neurological disease and who are being restricted in their mobility or in their participation in social life.

Ongoing studies at the SPC


We offer advanced training and educational courses. We organize a certified two-day course once a year, in which electrical stimulation and its application in the clinical/therapeutic field will be elaborated. The internationally advertised course takes place on the third Friday and Saturday in November. Beside the acquisition of knowledge regarding theoretical concepts and learning practical skills, the course offers an opportunity for international and interprofessional exchange.

Furthermore, we offer webinars taking place in the early evening. Their aim is to provide “learning snacks” regarding various topics involving the application of FES, NMES, direct muscle stimulation and tSCS.

We also accept advanced training or education inquiries from external private practices and hospitals. To this end, we kindly ask you to mention a specific topic within your request so that we can tailor an individualized program that concurs with your needs and wishes. These trainings can be conducted in an online, in-person or in a hybrid format.

Inpatient care

Inpatient treatment involving FES is guaranteed through the therapist in charge. They are supervised by both FES-specialists and therapy experts. A continuative treatment in the International FES Centre® and a lifelong follow-up care are guaranteed.

Outpatient care

Treatment regarding outpatient referrals including follow-up:

Upon outpatient referral to the International FES Centre®, all possibilities in respect to the application of electrical stimulation will be evaluated (i.e. FES, NMES or direct muscle stimulation, tSCS).

Furthermore, it is possible for outpatients to pursue treatment supported by physical and occupational therapists from different departments allowing to combine and integrate methods and technologies that rely on electrical stimulation (e.g.: foot drop systems, stimulation devices for arm and/or hand).

We provide follow-up care with electrical stimulation of inpatients after their discharge upon receival of an appropriate prescription. Moreover, treatment is offered upon medical prescription, as a private service or in the form of a subscription.

Since 2022, we offer outpatient rehabilitation for national and international clients which involves physical and occupational therapy in combination with the appropriate electrical stimulation modality.

Moreover, patients from abroad have the possibility to receive an individual consultation at the International FES Centre® in order to investigate the different possibilities (see above) to implement electrical stimulation as a treatment modality. This 3-hour consultation comprises diagnostics, treatment and the testing of different stimulation devices and systems.

FES services / treatment methods

FES represents a multifaceted treatment method that is ideally combined with occupational therapy and/or physiotherapy. The stimulation programmes and relevant parameters should, however, be selected on a case-by-case basis. As a rule, the use of standard programmes has not provided promising results.




Our specialists

  • Ines Bersch-Porada FES Centre

    Dr. Ines Bersch-Porada

    Head of the International FES Centre® and Physiotherapist
  • Michael Baumberger

    Dr. med. Michael Baumberger

    Senior Consultant Spinal Cord and Rehabilitation Medicine / Medical Responsibility for the International FES Centre®
  • Ursula Gföller FES Centre

    Ursula Gföller

    Physiotherapist and FES expert
  • Susanne Opel FES Centre

    Susanne Opel

    Physiotherapist and FES-Expert
  • Charlene Eggenschwiler

    Charlene Eggenschwiler

    Occupational therapist and FES expert
  • Marie Alberty FES Centre

    Marie Alberty

    Research Assistant and physiotherapist
  • Kathrin Schäfer FES Centre

    Kathrin Schafer

    Study Coordinator
  • Ulf Bersch FES Centre

    Dr. med. Ulf Bersch

    Staff member studies/research projects


Administration office hours

Monday to Thursday
8 am to midday
1 pm to 5 pm

8 am to midday
1 pm to 4 pm

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