Send to

Choose Destination
Phys Ther. 2012 Sep;92(9):1187-96. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20110479. Epub 2012 May 31.

Relationship between intensity of quadriceps muscle neuromuscular electrical stimulation and strength recovery after total knee arthroplasty.

Author information

Physical Therapy Program, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado, Mail Stop C244 13121 East 17th Ave, Room 3116, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.



Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) can facilitate the recovery of quadriceps muscle strength after total knee arthroplasty (TKA), yet the optimal intensity (dosage) of NMES and its effect on strength after TKA have yet to be determined.


The primary objective of this study was to determine whether the intensity of NMES application was related to the recovery of quadriceps muscle strength early after TKA. A secondary objective was to quantify quadriceps muscle fatigue and activation immediately after NMES to guide decisions about the timing of NMES during rehabilitation sessions.


This study was an observational experimental investigation.


Data were collected from 30 people who were 50 to 85 years of age and who received NMES after TKA. These people participated in a randomized controlled trial in which they received either standard rehabilitation or standard rehabilitation plus NMES to the quadriceps muscle to mitigate strength loss. For the NMES intervention group, NMES was applied 2 times per day at the maximal tolerable intensity for 15 contractions beginning 48 hours after surgery over the first 6 weeks after TKA. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation training intensity and quadriceps muscle strength and activation were assessed before surgery and 3.5 and 6.5 weeks after TKA.


At 3.5 weeks, there was a significant association between NMES training intensity and a change in quadriceps muscle strength (R(2)=.68) and activation (R(2)=.22). At 6.5 weeks, NMES training intensity was related to a change in strength (R(2)=.25) but not to a change in activation (R(2)=.00). Furthermore, quadriceps muscle fatigue occurred during NMES sessions at 3.5 and 6.5 weeks, whereas quadriceps muscle activation did not change.


Some participants reached the maximal stimulator output during at least 1 treatment session and might have tolerated more stimulation.


Higher NMES training intensities were associated with greater quadriceps muscle strength and activation after TKA.


[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center