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Jen French: FES Still My Best Option

By Sam Maddox

Jen French
Jen French says new FES system allows her to stand longer without fatigue.

When I was first injured, I discovered FES cycling; my ­insurance company denied coverage for it. I found out about the FES Center. I looked at everything available to someone with SCI, and I wasn't comfortable going overseas for a biologic procedure. What I liked about FES system is that if it didn't work I could get it explanted. So we went for it. That was in 1999.

About four days after they put in the system they tested the electrodes. My leg kicked out! It was a huge moment, the first time in many months those muscles had contracted.

When I decided to get the upgraded FES system in 2010, I went through the same process: What else is out there? Stem cells in China? I'm still not comfortable with that. My FES system is not a cure but it is still my best option. When treatments do come along and your body isn't ready, you won't be a good candidate. FES keeps me healthy and improves my quality of life.

Jen French runs the website www.neurotechnetwork.org, a resource on FES research and technology.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders