Neuromuscular Stimulation for Upper Extremity Motor and Functional Recovery in Acute Hemiplegia

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Background and PurposeThe purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of neuromuscular stimulation in enhancing the upper extremity motor and functional recovery of acute stroke survivors.MethodsForty-six stroke survivors admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation unit were randomly assigned to receive either neuromuscular stimulation or placebo. Twenty-eight subjects completed the study. The treatment group received surface neuromuscular stimulation to produce wrist and finger extension exercises. The control group received placebo stimulation over the paretic forearm. All subjects were treated 1 hour per day, for a total of 15 sessions. Outcomes were assessed in a blinded manner with the upper extremity component of the Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment and the self-care component of the Functional Independence Measure at pretreatment, after treatment, and at 4 and 12 weeks after treatment.ResultsThe treatment subjects and control subjects had comparable baseline characteristics. Parametric analyses revealed significantly greater gains in Fugl-Meyer scores for the treatment group after treatment (13.1 versus 6.5; P=0.05), at 4 weeks after treatment (17.9 versus 9.7; P=0.05), and at 12 weeks after treatment (20.6 versus 11.2; P=0.06). Functional Independence Measure scores were not different between groups at any of the time periods (P>0.10).ConclusionsData suggest that neuromuscular stimulation enhances the upper extremity motor recovery of acute stroke survivors. However, the sample size in this study was too small to detect any significant effect of neuromuscular stimulation on self-care function. (Stroke. 1998;29:975-979.)

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