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Stroke. 2005 Jan;36(1):80-5. Epub 2004 Nov 29.

Functional electrical stimulation improves motor recovery of the lower extremity and walking ability of subjects with first acute stroke: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

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Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.



The effectiveness of functional electrical stimulation (FES) has been investigated in chronic hemiplegia. The present study examines whether FES, given during acute stroke, was more effective in promoting motor recovery of the lower extremity and walking ability than standard rehabilitation alone.


Forty-six subjects, 70.9+/-8.0 years old and 9.2+/-4.1 days after stroke, were assigned randomly to 1 of 3 groups receiving standard rehabilitation with FES or placebo stimulation or alone (control). FES was applied 30 minutes and placebo stimulation 60 minutes, 5 days per week for 3 weeks. Outcome measurements included composite spasticity score, maximum isometric voluntary contraction of ankle dorsi-flexors and planter-flexors, and walking ability. They were recorded before treatment, weekly during the 3-week treatment, and at week 8 after stroke.


No significant differences were found in the baseline measurements. After 3 weeks of treatment, there was a significant reduction in the percentage of composite spasticity score, and a significant improvement in the ankle dorsiflexion torque, accompanied by an increase in agonist electromyogram and a reduction in electromyogram cocontraction ratio in the FES group, when compared with the other 2 groups (P<0.05). All subjects in the FES group were able to walk after treatment, and 84.6% of them returned home, in comparison with the placebo (53.3%) and control (46.2%, P<0.05) groups.


Fifteen sessions of FES, applied to subjects with acute stroke plus standard rehabilitation, improved their motor and walking ability to the degree that more subjects were able to return to home.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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