Posts Tagged FES

[REVIEW] CONTROL OF FUNCTIONAL ELECTRICAL STIMULATION FOR RESTORATION OF MOTOR FUNCTION – Full Text PDF

Abstract

An injury or disease of the central nervous system (CNS) results in significant limitations in the communication with the environment (e.g., mobility, reaching and grasping). Functional electrical stimulation (FES) externally activates the muscles; thus, can restore several motor functions and reduce other health related problems.

This review discusses the major bottleneck in current FES which prevents the wider use and better outcome of the treatment. We present a control method that we continually enhance during more than 30 years in the research and development of assistive systems. The presented control has a multi-level structure where upper levels use finite state control and the lower level implements model based control. We also discuss possible communication channels between the user and the controller of the FES. The artificial controller can be seen as the replica of the biological control. The principle of replication is used to minimize the problems which come from the interplay of biological and artificial control in FES. The biological control relies on an extensive network of neurons sending the output signals to the muscles. The network is being trained though many the trial and error processes in the early childhood, but staying open to changes throughout the life to satisfy the particular needs. The network considers the nonlinear and time variable properties of the motor system and provides adaptation in time and space.

The presented artificial control method implements the same strategy but relies on machine classification, heuristics, and simulation of model-based control. The motivation for writing this review comes from the fact that many control algorithms have been presented in the literature by the authors who do not have much experience in rehabilitation engineering and had never tested the operations with patients.

Almost all of the FES devices available implement only open-loop, sensory triggered preprogrammed sequences of stimulation. The suggestion is that the improvements in the FES devices need better controllers which consider the overall status of the potential user, various effects that stimulation has on afferent and efferent systems, reflexive responses to the FES and direct responses to the FES by non-stimulated sensory-motor systems, and the greater integration of the biological control.

Full Text: PDF

References

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Source: CONTROL OF FUNCTIONAL ELECTRICAL STIMULATION FOR RESTORATION OF MOTOR FUNCTION | Popović | Facta Universitatis, Series: Electronics and Energetics

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[VIDEO] Functional electrical stimulation (FES) talk with Christine Singleton and Sarah Joiner – YouTube

Δημοσιεύτηκε στις 22 Μαρ 2017

Lead Clinical Physiotherapist Christine Singleton and Sarah Joiner who has MS discuss Functional electrical stimulation (FES), how it works, who can use it, how to wear it, does it make a difference and how can you get referred for it. For more information about FES visit our website https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/functi…

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[WEB SIDE] WalkAide & Foot Drop – WalkAide.com

WalkAide & Foot Drop

​​​​WalkAide: Helping​​ You Get a Leg Up on Foot Drop

WalkAide is a class II, FDA cleared medical device, designed to improve walking ability in people experiencing foot drop caused by upper motor neuron injuries or conditions such as:

  • Multiple Sc​​lerosis (MS)​
  • Stroke (CVA)
  • Cerebral Palsy (CP)
  • Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)​​

​Foot Drop or Dropped Foot is a condition caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot, which causes a person to drag the toe of the shoe on the ground or slap the foot on the floor.

Foot drop (also known as drop foot) may result from damage to the central nervous system such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. The WalkAide is designed to assist with the ability to lift the foot for those individuals who have suffered an injury to their central nervous system. The WalkAide is not designed to work with people who have damage to the lower motor neurons/peripheral nerves.​

WalkAide vs. AFO​

Traditionally, foot drop is treated with bracing using an ankle foot orthosis (AFO). The passive treatement offered by AFOs do not promote active use of neuromuscular systems and also limits ankle range of motion. In addition, AFOs can be uncomfortable, bulky, and, if poorly fitted, produce areas of pressure and tissue breakdown. The WalkAide may replace the traditional AFO to re-engage a person’s existing nerve pathways and muscles. Using the WalkAide, in most cases, frees the patient from AFO restrictions. 

The recruitment of existing muscles results in reduction of atrophy and walking fatigue – a common side effect of foot bracing. WalkAide users have the freedom to walk with or without footwear, up and down the stairs, and even sidestep.

Comparison of Benefits of Functional Electrical
Stimulation (FES) and Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) for Foot Drop​

AFO = ankle foot orthosis • FES = functional electrical stimulation • ROM = range of motion
​​

Advanced Technology; Easy to Use

​​​Invented by a team of researchers at the University of Alberta, WalkAide uses functional electrical stimulation (FES) to restore typical nerve-to-muscle signals in the leg and foot, effectively lifting the foot at the appropriate time. The resulting movement is a smoother, more natural and safer stepping motion. It may allow faster walking for longer distances with less fatigue. In fact, many people who try WalkAide experience immediate and substantial improvement in their walking ability, which increases their mobility, functionality, and overall independence.

​A sophisticated medical device, WalkAide uses advanced tilt sensor technology to analyze the movement of your leg. This tilt sensor adjust the timing of stimulation for every step. The system sends electrical signals or stimulation to the peroneal nerve, which controls movement in your ankle and foot. These gentle electrical impulses activate the muscles to raise your foot at the appropriate time during the step cycle.

​Although highly-advanced, WalkAide is surprisingly small and easy to use. It consists of a AA battery-operated, single-channel electrical stimulator, two electrodes, and electrode leads. WalkAide is applied directly to the leg — not implanted underneath the skin — which means no surgery is involved. A cuff holds the system comfortably in place, and it can be worn discreetly under most clothing. With the WalkAide’s patented Tilt Sensor technology, most users do not require additional external wiring or remote heel sensors.

​​WalkAide Provides the Advantages not Found in Typical Foot Drop Treamtents :

  • Easy one-handed operation and application
  • Small, self-contained unit
  • Does not require orthopedic or special shoes
  • May be worn barefoot or with slippers
  • Minimal contact means minimal discomfort with reduced perspiration
  • May improve circulation, reduce atrophy, improve voluntary control and increase joint range of motion

Customized For Individual Walking Pattern

​WalkAide is not a one size fits all device. Rather, a specially trained medical professional customizes and fits the WalkAide. Using WalkAnalyst, a multifaceted computer software program, the clinician can tailor WalkAide to an individual’s walking pattern for optimal effectiveness.

Exercise Mode for Home Use

​In addition fo walking assistance, the WalkAide system includes a pre-programmable exercise mode that allows a user to exercise his/her muscles while resting for a set period of time as prescribed.​

Visit Site —> WalkAide & Foot Drop – WalkAide.com

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[WEB SITE] Bioness Inc. – H200 for Hand Paralysis

Regain More Natural Hand Function — With Wireless Freedom.

The H200 Wireless Hand Rehabilitation System

Now you can get back to your daily living activities with the H200 Wireless Hand Rehabilitation System that offers the freedom and convenience of wireless operation. The H200 Wireless Hand Rehabilitation System is an ergonomically designed, easy-to-operate system that helps you achieve your personal recovery goals. Reaching, grasping, opening and closing the hand are all possible with the H200 Wireless Hand Rehabilitation System.

100% Wireless

With wireless operation, it’s easy to integrate into your daily life.

The system’s advanced technology delivers low-level electrical stimulation to activate the nerves that control the muscles in the hand and forearm, helping you regain your freedom and independence.1

The H200 Wireless Hand Rehabilitation System is a medical device cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CE-marked for the European Union.

If you are currently a H200 Hand Rehabilitation System user, Bioness will continue to support your current system through April 2014. However, to help you upgrade to the new H200 Wireless System, we are offering a substantial trade-in allowance for your current system for a limited time.

1. Hausdorff JM, Ring H. 2006. The effect of the NESS L300 neuroprosthesis on gait stability and symmetry (abstract included in CSM 2007 Platform Presentations). J Neurol Phys Ther. 30(4):198.

H200 for Hand Paralysis

 

Visit Site —> Bioness Inc. – H200 for Hand Paralysis

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[ARTICLE] Compensating the effects of FES-induced muscle fatigue by rehabilitation robotics during arm weight support – Full Text

Abstract

Motor functions can be hindered in consequence to a stroke or a spinal cord injury. This often results in partial paralyses of the upper limb. The effectiveness of rehabilitation therapy can be improved by the use of rehabilitation robotics and Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). We consider a hybrid arm weight support combining both.

In order to compensate the effect of FES-induced muscle fatigue, we introduce a method to substitute the decreasing level of FES support by cable-driven robotics. We evaluated the approach in a trial with one healthy subject performing repetitive arm lifting. The controller automatically adapted the support and thus no increase in user generated volitional effort was observed when FES induced muscle fatigue occured.

Continue —> Compensating the effects of FES-induced muscle fatigue by rehabilitation robotics during arm weight support : Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering

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[ARTICLE] Effectiveness of upper limb functional electrical stimulation after stroke for the improvement of activities of daily living and motor function: a systematic review and meta-analysis – Full Text

Abstract

Background

Stroke can lead to significant impairment of upper limb function which affects performance of activities of daily living (ADL). Functional electrical stimulation (FES) involves electrical stimulation of motor neurons such that muscle groups contract and create or augment a moment about a joint. Whilst lower limb FES was established in post-stroke rehabilitation, there is a lack of clarity on the effectiveness of upper limb FES. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effectiveness of post-stroke upper limb FES on ADL and motor outcomes.

Methods

Systematic review of randomised controlled trials from MEDLINE, PsychINFO, EMBASE, CENTRAL, ISRCTN, ICTRP and ClinicalTrials.gov. Citation checking of included studies and systematic reviews. Eligibility criteria: participants > 18 years with haemorrhagic/ischaemic stroke, intervention group received upper limb FES plus standard care, control group received standard care. Outcomes were ADL (primary), functional motor ability (secondary) and other motor outcomes (tertiary). Quality assessment using GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) criteria.

Results

Twenty studies were included. No significant benefit of FES was found for objective ADL measures reported in six studies (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.64; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) [−0.02, 1.30]; total participants in FES group (n) = 67); combination of all ADL measures was not possible. Analysis of three studies where FES was initiated on average within 2 months post-stroke showed a significant benefit of FES on ADL (SMD 1.24; CI [0.46, 2.03]; n = 32). In three studies where FES was initiated more than 1 year after stroke, no significant ADL improvements were seen (SMD −0.10; CI [−0.59, 0.38], n = 35).

Quality assessment using GRADE found very low quality evidence in all analyses due to heterogeneity, low participant numbers and lack of blinding.

Conclusions

FES is a promising therapy which could play a part in future stroke rehabilitation. This review found a statistically significant benefit from FES applied within 2 months of stroke on the primary outcome of ADL. However, due to the very low (GRADE) quality evidence of these analyses, firm conclusions cannot be drawn about the effectiveness of FES or its optimum therapeutic window. Hence, there is a need for high quality large-scale randomised controlled trials of upper limb FES after stroke.

Background

Stroke is defined as a clinical syndrome characterised by rapidly developing focal or global disturbance in cerebral function lasting more than 24 h or leading to death due to a presumed vascular cause [1]. Globally, approximately 16 million people have a stroke each year [2] and in the UK, first-ever stroke affects about 230 people per 100,000 population each year [3]. Stroke represents a cost to the UK economy of approximately £9 billion annually, of which £1.33 billion results from productivity losses [4].

Stroke often leads to significant impairment of upper limb function and is associated with decreased quality of life in all domains except for mobility [5]. Few patients attain complete functional recovery [6]; this deficit impairs performance of activities of daily living (ADL), including self-care and social activities [7, 8]. ADL reflect the level of functional impairment in daily life and are therefore the most clinically relevant outcome measures in assessing recovery after stroke [9].

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) was well established as an intervention for motor rehabilitation. FES is the electrical stimulation of motor neurons such that muscle groups are stimulated to contract and create/augment a moment about a joint [2]. Transcutaneous electrodes offer the most immediate and clinically viable treatment option as they are non-invasive and may permit home-based treatment.

There are various terms used in the literature to describe different forms of electrical stimulation, often inconsistently. Some authors define FES as electrical stimulation applied to a subject which causes muscle contraction. This passive modality is also referred to as neuromuscular electrical stimulation [10]. Others define FES as electrical stimulation applied during a voluntary movement [4]. This definition acknowledges the volitional component of physical rehabilitation and was used in this systematic review. The distinction is important because neuroimaging studies have identified different cortical mechanisms according to stimulation type [11, 12, 13]. Indeed, perfusion to the ipsilesional sensory-motor cortex and cortical excitability were increased with FES when compared to passive modalities of electrical stimulation [12, 13, 14]. These findings could indicate greater potential for volitional FES to induce neuroplasticity. This is believed to play an important role in neurorehabilitation [15] and is a key objective of post-stroke functional recovery [16].

FES has been widely researched for post-stroke lower limb rehabilitation; several systematic reviews [17, 18, 19] and national guidelines [20, 21] exist. Improvement in upper limb function is central to post-stroke rehabilitation as it positively affects ADL and quality of life [22]. Yet, there is still a lack of clarity on the effectiveness of FES in post-stroke upper limb rehabilitation [23] despite systematic reviews having been undertaken [24, 25, 26, 27, 28]. In part, this is due to methodological limitations [27, 28] or the outdated nature of some existing reviews [24, 25, 26]. The latter was highlighted by a recent Cochrane overview of reviews calling for an up-to-date review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) related to electrical stimulation [29]. A more recent systematic review found a significant improvement in motor outcomes with upper limb FES [27]. However, this was based on a single meta-analysis that combined ADLs with upper limb-specific measures of functional motor ability, including studies where results were at risk of performance bias (intervention groups receiving greater duration of treatment than control groups) [27]. Another found no improvement in motor function when FES was applied within 6 months of stroke [28]. However, this predominantly included studies that applied electrical stimulation in the absence of volitional muscle contraction, confounding interpretation of the results. This inconsistency is reflected in the 2016 guidelines set by the Royal College of Physicians which recommends FES only in the context of clinical trials as an adjunct to conventional therapy [21].

This systematic review aims to elucidate the effectiveness of upper limb FES compared to standard therapy in improving ADL, in addition to motor outcomes, post-stroke. It represents an important addition to the literature that focuses on the use of volitional FES and, for the first time, distinguishes its effect on clinically relevant patient outcomes from surrogate markers of patient rehabilitation. This includes analyses based on patient sub-groups defined by the time after stroke at which FES was initiated.

Fig. 1 Flow diagram for included studies

Continue —> Effectiveness of upper limb functional electrical stimulation after stroke for the improvement of activities of daily living and motor function: a systematic review and meta-analysis | Systematic Reviews | Full Text

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[Abstract] Single Session of Functional Electrical Stimulation−Assisted Walking Produces Corticomotor Symmetry Changes Related to Changes in Poststroke Walking Mechanics

Abstract

Background: Recent research demonstrated that symmetry of corticomotor drive to paretic and nonparetic plantarflexor muscles are related to the biomechanical ankle moment strategy that individuals with chronic stroke used to achieve their greatest walking speeds. Rehabilitation strategies that promote corticomotor balance could potentially improve post-stroke walking mechanics and enhance functional ambulation.

Objective: To 1) test the effectiveness of a single session of gait training using functional electrical stimulation (FES) to improve plantarflexor corticomotor symmetry and plantarflexion ankle moment symmetry and 2) determine if changes in corticomotor symmetry relate to changes in ankle moment symmetry within the session.

Design: A repeated measures cross-over study.

Methods: On separate days, twenty individuals with chronic stroke completed a session of treadmill walking either with or without the use of FES to their ankle dorsi- and plantarflexors muscles. We calculated plantarflexor corticomotor symmetry using transcranial magnetic stimulation and plantarflexion ankle moment symmetry during walking between the paretic and nonparetic limbs before and after each session. We compared changes and tested relationships between corticomotor and ankle moment symmetry following each session.

Results: Following the session with FES there was an increase in plantarflexor corticomotor symmetry that was related to the observed increase in ankle moment symmetry. In contrast, following the session without FES there were no changes in corticomotor symmetry or ankle moment symmetry.

Limitations: No stratification was made based on lesion size, location, or clinical severity.

Conclusions: For the first time, these findings demonstrate the ability of a single session of gait training with FES to induce positive corticomotor plasticity in individuals in the chronic stage of stroke recovery and provide insight into the neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying improvements in biomechanical walking function.

Source: Single Session of Functional Electrical Stimulation−Assisted Walking Produces Corticomotor Symmetry Changes Related to Changes in Poststroke Walking Mechanics | Physical Therapy | Oxford Academic

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[Systematic Review] Effectiveness of upper limb functional electrical stimulation after stroke for the improvement of activities of daily living and motor function: a systematic review and meta-analysis – Full Text

Abstract

Background

Stroke can lead to significant impairment of upper limb function which affects performance of activities of daily living (ADL). Functional electrical stimulation (FES) involves electrical stimulation of motor neurons such that muscle groups contract and create or augment a moment about a joint. Whilst lower limb FES was established in post-stroke rehabilitation, there is a lack of clarity on the effectiveness of upper limb FES. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effectiveness of post-stroke upper limb FES on ADL and motor outcomes.

Methods

Systematic review of randomised controlled trials from MEDLINE, PsychINFO, EMBASE, CENTRAL, ISRCTN, ICTRP and ClinicalTrials.gov. Citation checking of included studies and systematic reviews. Eligibility criteria: participants > 18 years with haemorrhagic/ischaemic stroke, intervention group received upper limb FES plus standard care, control group received standard care. Outcomes were ADL (primary), functional motor ability (secondary) and other motor outcomes (tertiary). Quality assessment using GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) criteria.

Results

Twenty studies were included. No significant benefit of FES was found for objective ADL measures reported in six studies (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.64; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) [−0.02, 1.30]; total participants in FES group (n) = 67); combination of all ADL measures was not possible. Analysis of three studies where FES was initiated on average within 2 months post-stroke showed a significant benefit of FES on ADL (SMD 1.24; CI [0.46, 2.03]; n = 32). In three studies where FES was initiated more than 1 year after stroke, no significant ADL improvements were seen (SMD −0.10; CI [−0.59, 0.38], n = 35).

Quality assessment using GRADE found very low quality evidence in all analyses due to heterogeneity, low participant numbers and lack of blinding.

Conclusions

FES is a promising therapy which could play a part in future stroke rehabilitation. This review found a statistically significant benefit from FES applied within 2 months of stroke on the primary outcome of ADL. However, due to the very low (GRADE) quality evidence of these analyses, firm conclusions cannot be drawn about the effectiveness of FES or its optimum therapeutic window. Hence, there is a need for high quality large-scale randomised controlled trials of upper limb FES after stroke.

Background

Stroke is defined as a clinical syndrome characterised by rapidly developing focal or global disturbance in cerebral function lasting more than 24 h or leading to death due to a presumed vascular cause [1]. Globally, approximately 16 million people have a stroke each year [2] and in the UK, first-ever stroke affects about 230 people per 100,000 population each year [3]. Stroke represents a cost to the UK economy of approximately £9 billion annually, of which £1.33 billion results from productivity losses [4].

Stroke often leads to significant impairment of upper limb function and is associated with decreased quality of life in all domains except for mobility [5]. Few patients attain complete functional recovery [6]; this deficit impairs performance of activities of daily living (ADL), including self-care and social activities [7, 8]. ADL reflect the level of functional impairment in daily life and are therefore the most clinically relevant outcome measures in assessing recovery after stroke [9].

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) was well established as an intervention for motor rehabilitation. FES is the electrical stimulation of motor neurons such that muscle groups are stimulated to contract and create/augment a moment about a joint [2]. Transcutaneous electrodes offer the most immediate and clinically viable treatment option as they are non-invasive and may permit home-based treatment.

There are various terms used in the literature to describe different forms of electrical stimulation, often inconsistently. Some authors define FES as electrical stimulation applied to a subject which causes muscle contraction. This passive modality is also referred to as neuromuscular electrical stimulation [10]. Others define FES as electrical stimulation applied during a voluntary movement [4]. This definition acknowledges the volitional component of physical rehabilitation and was used in this systematic review. The distinction is important because neuroimaging studies have identified different cortical mechanisms according to stimulation type [11, 12, 13]. Indeed, perfusion to the ipsilesional sensory-motor cortex and cortical excitability were increased with FES when compared to passive modalities of electrical stimulation [12, 13, 14]. These findings could indicate greater potential for volitional FES to induce neuroplasticity. This is believed to play an important role in neurorehabilitation [15] and is a key objective of post-stroke functional recovery [16].

FES has been widely researched for post-stroke lower limb rehabilitation; several systematic reviews [17, 18, 19] and national guidelines [20, 21] exist. Improvement in upper limb function is central to post-stroke rehabilitation as it positively affects ADL and quality of life [22]. Yet, there is still a lack of clarity on the effectiveness of FES in post-stroke upper limb rehabilitation [23] despite systematic reviews having been undertaken [24, 25, 26, 27, 28]. In part, this is due to methodological limitations [27, 28] or the outdated nature of some existing reviews [24, 25, 26]. The latter was highlighted by a recent Cochrane overview of reviews calling for an up-to-date review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) related to electrical stimulation [29]. A more recent systematic review found a significant improvement in motor outcomes with upper limb FES [27]. However, this was based on a single meta-analysis that combined ADLs with upper limb-specific measures of functional motor ability, including studies where results were at risk of performance bias (intervention groups receiving greater duration of treatment than control groups) [27]. Another found no improvement in motor function when FES was applied within 6 months of stroke [28]. However, this predominantly included studies that applied electrical stimulation in the absence of volitional muscle contraction, confounding interpretation of the results. This inconsistency is reflected in the 2016 guidelines set by the Royal College of Physicians which recommends FES only in the context of clinical trials as an adjunct to conventional therapy [21].

This systematic review aims to elucidate the effectiveness of upper limb FES compared to standard therapy in improving ADL, in addition to motor outcomes, post-stroke. It represents an important addition to the literature that focuses on the use of volitional FES and, for the first time, distinguishes its effect on clinically relevant patient outcomes from surrogate markers of patient rehabilitation. This includes analyses based on patient sub-groups defined by the time after stroke at which FES was initiated.

Continue —> Effectiveness of upper limb functional electrical stimulation after stroke for the improvement of activities of daily living and motor function: a systematic review and meta-analysis | Systematic Reviews | Full Text

Fig. 1 Flow diagram for included studies

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[VIDEO] FES at ‘Show your ability’ – Palmerston North 2017 – YouTube

Δημοσιεύτηκε στις 1 Μαρ 2017

Functional Electrical Stimulation by Berkel Bikes.

Electrodes integrated into a pair of cycling pants or applied to the skin of the user send electric impulses to the different muscle groups of legs and buttocks. A sensor at the front wheel of the bike transmits the current pedal position to the FES computer. The computer then coordinates which muscles have to be stimulated at what time to generate a cycling motion.

In general, most people with spinal cord injury who have a spastic paralysis can use the BerkelBike FES-Box. If you are paralyzed but don’t have any spasms, the RISE Stimulator may be the right choice for you. There are cases, where also people with multiple sclerosis can benefit from the functional electrical stimulation.

The BerkelBike FES-Box can also be used as a stand-alone stimulator, for instance, to stimulate abdominal or back muscles while lying in your bed.

Credit to our willing model – Marina

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[ARTICLE] The effects of functional electrical stimulation on muscle tone and stiffness of stroke patients – Full Text PDF

Abstract

[Purpose] The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of functional electrical stimulation on muscle tone and stiffness in stroke patients.

[Subjects and Methods] Ten patients who had suffered from stroke were recruited. The intervention was functional electrical stimulation on ankle dorsiflexor muscle (tibialis anterior). The duration of functional electrical stimulation was 30 minutes, 5 times a week for 6 weeks. The Myoton was used a measure the muscle tone and stiffness of the gastrocnemius muscle (medial and lateral part) on paretic side.

[Results] In the assessment of muscle tone, medial and lateral part of gastrocnemius muscle showed differences before and after the experiment. Muscle stiffness of medial gastrocnemius muscle showed differences, and lateral gastrocnemius muscle showed differences before and after the experiment. The changes were greater in stiffness scores than muscle tone.

[Conclusion] These results suggest that FES on ankle dorsiflexor muscle had a positive effect on muscle tone and stiffness of stroke patients.

INTRODUCTION

Muscle tone is defined as the resistance of muscle being passively lengthened1) . Abnormal muscle tone occurs in disorders of central nervous system and can affect up to two-thirds of patients with stroke2) . Especially, it is a common motor disorder following stroke, which may require rehabilitation3) . A hypertonus state leads to involuntary muscle contractions that interfere with the normal movements of the arms and legs, restrict the range of motion of joints, and lower extremity the functions of daily living, thereby restricting the functional recovery of patients4) .

Yan and Hui-Chan reported that functional electrical stimulation (FES) may be able to normalize muscle tone in affected ankle plantar flexors5) . FES is a popular post-stroke gait rehabilitation intervention. FES is typically delivered to ankle dorsiflexors to correct foot drop during the swing phase6) . FES is applied on the tibialis anterior muscle to enhance coordination capability during the gait cycle, and to increase the range of motion of the ankle joint and walking speed, thus improving gait quality7) . FES appears to enhance balance control during walking and, thus, effectively management foot drop in stroke patients8) . Cho et al. reported that treadmill training while FES was applied to the gluteus medius and tibialis anterior muscles increased lower limb muscle strength and improved balance and gait9) . Most previous studies assessed muscle strength and gait ability. However, few studies have assessed muscle tone and stiffness. Therefore, we investigated the influence of FES on muscle tone and stiffness in stroke patients.

Stroke survivors show significantly higher resistance torque and joint stiffness10) . Muscle stiffness, which is defined as a change in passive tension per unit change in length, is an indication of a muscle’s passive resistance to elongation11) . Ankle stiffness is associated with difficulty walking due to an asymmetric posture and a loss of balance and motor control12) . Limited ankle joint dorsiflexion is caused by calf muscle (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) stiffness and soft contracture13) . Owing to an increase of muscle tension in the gastrocnemius muscle, stroke patients cannot actively control dorsiflexion, and foot drop tends to occur14) .

In this study, we hypothesized that FES applied to the ankle dorsiflexor (tibialis anterior) may reduce muscle tone and stiffness of the gastrocnemis muscle (medial and lateral part) in stroke patients.

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