Objective: Patients with stroke commonly lose their ability to maintain postural balance control and proper postural alignment during walking because of spasticity and weakness. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of functional electrical stimulation (FES) in improving walking and balance abilities in Saudi patients with chronic stroke.
Methods: The study was carried out at the Physical Therapy
Department of Umm al-Qura University in Saudi Arabia. The study design was a randomized controlled trial. Thirty male patients ages 40 to 50 years with chronic stroke were included in the research. They were randomly distributed into two groups (A and B) consisting of 15 members each. The participants in both groups underwent a conventional physical therapy program that included balance, standing, and gait training exercises. In addition, the patients in group B underwent a training program with FES with the use of the WalkAide foot drop stimulator. Gait velocity (m/s), the dynamic postural stability and dynamic limit of stability indices of the patients in both groups pre- and post-treatment were evaluated by using the 10-meter walking test and the Biodex Balance System, respectively.
Results: Statistically significant differences in the post-treatment results were found between the two groups, with group B showing more favorable values for gait velocity, overall stability index, and overall directional control index (p = 0.02, 0.025, and 0.02, respectively). For all the measured variables, significantly better results from pre- to posttreatment were recorded for both groups (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: FES therapy of the tibialis anterior muscle with the use of the WalkAide foot drop stimulator was effective in improving walking and balance abilities in Saudi patients with stroke.