Hybrid functional electrical stimulation orthosis system for the upper limb: effects on spasticity in chronic stable hemiplegia.

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A new hybrid functional electrical stimulation orthosis system for the upper limb has been designed to allow for ease of use in the home as a daily treatment modality, as well as offer the opportunity for function enhancement. In a pilot study, the system was used by ten patients with chronic stable hemiparesis secondary to cerebral vascular accident and head injuries. The patients were referred by their treating physicians or therapists after meeting the inclusion criteria of good general health, being greater than one year after head injury, or being ten months post-stroke, with no observed neurologic changes in the prior six weeks. Each of these patients had received prolonged physical therapy, either continuous from the initial inpatient rehabilitation treatment or on an intermittent basis over a period of years. The baseline status for factors related to increased muscle tone, i.e., passive range of motion at the wrist and elbow, posture at rest, posture immediately following activity, and spasticity were quantified before the treatment protocol with the functional electrical stimulation orthosis. Active range of motion and tests of functional use of the involved upper limb were also assessed. The patients were instructed in the protocol, trained in the use of the system, and then used the electrical orthosis at home for up to several hours per day. Follow-up assessments were at six months. A statistically significant improvement was noted in all muscle tone/spasticity parameters measured. A separate report will describe the effects on voluntary motion and functional capabilities.

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