Objective: To investigate whether full-movement neuromuscular electrical stimulation, which can generate full range of movement, reduces spasticity and/or improves motor function more effectively than control, sensory threshold—neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and motor threshold—neuromuscular electrical stimulation in sub-acute stroke patients.
Design: A randomized, single-blind, controlled study.
Setting: Physical therapy room and functional assessment room.
Participants: A total of 72 adult patients with sub-acute post-stroke hemiplegia and plantar flexor spasticity.
Method: Patients received 30-minute sessions of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on the motor points of the extensor hallucis and digitorum longus twice a day, five days per week for four weeks.
Measures: Composite Spasticity Scale, Ankle Active Dorsiflexion Score, and walking time in the Timed Up and Go Test were assessed at pretreatment, posttreatment, and at two-week follow-up.
Results: After four weeks of treatment, when comparing interclass pretreatment and posttreatment, only the full-movement neuromuscular electrical stimulation group had a significant reduction in the Composite Spasticity Scale (mean % reduction = 19.91(4.96)%, F = 3.878, p < 0.05) and improvement in the Ankle Active Dorsiflexion Score (mean scores = 3.29(0.91), F = 3.140, p 0.05).
Conclusions: Full-movement neuromuscular electrical stimulation with a stimulus intensity capable of generating full movement can significantly reduce plantar flexor spasticity and improve ankle active dorsiflexion, but cannot decrease walking time in the Timed Up and Go Test in sub-acute stroke patients.