Purpose: Motor recovery of persons after stroke may be enhanced by a novel approach where residual muscle activity is facilitated by patient-controlled electrical muscle activation. Myoelectric activity from hemiparetic muscles is then used for continuous control of functional electrical stimulation (MeCFES) of same or synergic muscles to promote restoration of movements during task-oriented therapy (TOT). Use of MeCFES during TOT may help to obtain a larger functional and neurological recovery than otherwise possible. Study design: Multicenter randomized controlled trial. Methods: Eighty two acute and chronic stroke victims were recruited through the collaborating facilities and after signing an informed consent were randomized to receive either the experimental (MeCFES assisted TOT (M-TOT) or conventional rehabilitation care including TOT (C-TOT). Both groups received 45 minutes of rehabilitation over 25 sessions. Outcomes were Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), Upper Extremity Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA-UE) scores and Disability of the Arm Shoulder and Hand questionnaire. Results: Sixty eight subjects completed the protocol (Mean age 66.2, range 36.5–88.7, onset months 12.7, range 0.8–19.1) of which 45 were seen at follow up 5 weeks later. There were significant improvements in both groups on ARAT (median improvement: MeCFES TOT group 3.0; C-TOT group 2.0) and FMA-UE (median improvement: M-TOT 4.5; C-TOT 3.5). Considering subacute subjects (time since stroke < 6 months), there was a trend for a larger proportion of improved patients in the M-TOT group following rehabilitation (57.9%) than in the C-TOT group (33.2%) (difference in proportion improved 24.7%; 95% CI -4.0; 48.6), though the study did not meet the planned sample size. Conclusion: This is the first large multicentre RCT to compare MeCFES assisted TOT with conventional care TOT for the upper extremity. No adverse events or negative outcomes were encountered, thus we conclude that MeCFES can be a safe adjunct to rehabilitation that could promote recovery of upper limb function in persons after stroke, particularly when applied in the subacute phase.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)