Sensory Barrage Stimulation in the Treatment of Elbow Spasticity: A Crossover Double Blind Randomized Pilot Trial

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess the feasibility of using a novel form of multichannel electrical stimulation, termed Sensory Barrage Stimulation (SBS) for the treatment of spasticity affecting the elbow flexor muscles and to compare this with conventional single-channel TENS stimulation.

Materials and Methods:

Altogether ten participants with spasticity of the flexor muscles of the elbow of Grade 2 or above on the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS) were recruited to this crossover double blind randomized trial. The participants received two intervention sessions (SBS and TENS), one week apart in a randomized order. Both interventions were applied over the triceps brachii on the affected arm for a duration of 60 minutes. Spasticity was measured using the MAS. Secondary outcome measures were self-reported change in spasticity, measured on a visual analog scale (VAS, 0–100), and therapist-rated strength of elbow extension and strength of elbow flexion. Measurements were taken immediately before each intervention was applied, immediately after the intervention, and one hour after the intervention.

Results:

Immediately after stimulation spasticity showed a significant reduction for both TENS and SBS groups assessed by MAS −0.9 ± 0.2 vs. −1.1 ± 0.2 and by VAS −15 ± 3 vs. −31 ± 8. For SBS this improvement in MAS was still present at one hour after the stimulation, but not for TENS. Altogether seven SBS responders and four TENS responders were identified.

Conclusions:

This study demonstrates the feasibility and practicality of applying the new concept of SBS. Promising results indicate it causes a reduction in spasticity.

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