Posts Tagged transcutaneous electrical stimulation

[WEB SITE] Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) may help lower limb spasticity after stroke

Adult using TENS machine for lower limb pain

Published on 26 February 2019

doi: 10.3310/signal-000738

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) delivered alongside standard physical therapies could reduce spasticity in the lower limbs following a stroke.

Spasticity is a muscle control disorder characterised by tight muscles. It is common after stroke and accounts for significant disability. TENS is often used to treat pain and can affect nervous stimulation of the muscles.

The main evidence in this systematic review came from five trials which suggested that TENS combined with other physical therapies has moderate effect on lower limb spasticity compared with placebo.

The review has limitations, with small studies and little evidence on use for upper limbs or comparing with other therapies. However, TENS machines are portable, inexpensive and widely accessible making them an appealing addition to other care.

NICE does not currently recommend the use of TENS in stroke rehabilitation, though guidance covers use of other types of electrical stimulation in certain other contexts.

Why was this study needed?

More than 1.2 million people in the UK are living with the effects of stroke. About two-thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with residual disability and one quarter experience spasticity.

Electrical stimulation is sometimes used as treatment after a stroke. It includes functional electrical stimulation and neuromuscular electrical stimulation, which both focus on muscle contraction. Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) targets the sensory nerves in a different way.

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation has been suggested as an adjunct to other rehabilitation therapy to try and reduce spasticity. The device is portable and can be self-administered at home, so its potential for managing spasticity is appealing.

There have been a number of small studies of TENS with conflicting results. This review aimed to combine the results to see if there was evidence for its use to treat spasticity after stroke.

What did this study do?

This systematic review identified 15 studies (10 randomised controlled trials) reporting the effectiveness of TENS on spasticity after stroke.

Studies compared TENS, used alone or alongside other therapies such as functional exercises, with placebo, no treatment or other treatments. Thirteen studies assessed lower limb spasticity, with 11 targeting the ability to flex the foot. Most assessed use in the chronic rather than acute phase of stroke.

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation regimen varied widely. Intervention periods ranged from one day to 12 weeks, the number of TENS sessions from one to seven per week, and the duration of sessions ranged from less than 20 minutes up to 60 minutes.

Trials were small with maximum participant size 80. The quality of randomised controlled trials was good overall, with lack of participant blinding being the most likely source of bias. Seven trials were pooled in meta-analysis.

What did it find?

  • Transcutaneous electrical stimulation used alongside other physical therapies was moderately effective in reducing spasticity in the lower limbs compared with placebo (standard mean difference [SMD] -0.64, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.98 to -0.31). This was from meta-analysis of five trials (221 adults) with broadly similar results.
  • Pooled results of two trials (60 adults) also found that TENS alongside other physical therapies was more effective at reducing spasticity than no TENS (SMD -0.83, 95% CI -1.51 to -0.15).
  • Five studies assessed longer-term effects on spasticity. Three studies found the effects were maintained for a period of two to five weeks whilst two studies found the effects lasted for less than a day and that spasticity returned to baseline levels immediately following the intervention.
  • None of the studies reported any adverse effects of TENS.

What does current guidance say on this issue?

The NICE guideline on stroke rehabilitation (2013) does not currently include recommendations for use of TENS. NICE advises against the routine use of electrical stimulation for the hand and arm but suggests a trial of treatment may be considered if there is sign of muscle contraction, and the person cannot move their arm against resistance.

NICE guidance from 2009 advises that there is sufficient evidence that functional electrical stimulation can improve walking in people with drop foot following a stroke, provided the normal arrangements are in place for clinical governance, consent and audit.

What are the implications?

This review suggests that TENS, when delivered alongside other physical therapies, could be considered for lower limb spasticity as part of a stroke rehabilitation programme.

The findings are similar to a 2015 systematic review which found that electrical stimulation gave small but significant improvements in spasticity following stroke. Again this earlier review was limited by small sample sizes, varied treatment regimens and few studies that could be pooled in meta-analysis.

There was insufficient evidence to support use for upper limbs.

Cost was not assessed, but TENS is a non-invasive therapy and devices are widely available and could easily be used at home.

Citation and Funding

Mahmood A, Veluswamy SK, Hombali A, et al. Effect of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on spasticity in adults with stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2018; 16 November. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2018.10.016. [Epub ahead of print].

No funding information was provided for this study.

Bibliography

NICE. Functional electrical stimulation for drop foot of central neurological origin. IPG278. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2009.

NICE. Stroke rehabilitation in adults. CG162. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2013.

NICE. Spasticity (after stroke) – botulinum toxin type A. ID768. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; in development.

Stein C, Fritsch CG, Robinson C et al. Effects of electrical stimulation in spastic muscles after stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Stroke. 2015;46(8):2197-205.

Stroke Association. State of the nation: stroke statistics. London: Stroke Association; 2018.

 

  1. Analysis of the Faster Knee-Jerk In the Hemiplegic Limb
    TAKAO NAKANISHI et al., JAMA Neurology, 1965
  2. Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation
    WILLIAM BAUER et al., JAMA Otolaryngology Head Neck Surgery, 1986

via Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) may help lower limb spasticity after stroke

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[Abstract] Evaluation of a self-administered transcutaneous electrical stimulation concept for the treatment of spasticity: a randomised placebo-controlled trial

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BACKGROUND: Spasticity is a common consequence of injury to the central nervous system negatively affecting patient’s everyday activities. Treatment mainly consists of training and different drugs, often with side effects. There is a need for treatment options that can be performed by the patient in their home environment.

AIM: The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of an assistive technology (AT), Mollii®, a garment with integrated electrodes for multifocal transcutaneous electrical stimulation intended for self-treatment of spasticity, in study participants with spasticity due to stroke or CP.

DESIGN: The study was a randomised, controlled, double-blind study with a cross-over design.

SETTING: Participants were recruited from two rehabilitation clinics. Treatments were performed in participants’ homes and all follow-ups were performed in the two rehabilitation clinics.

POPULATION: Thirty-one participants were included in the study and 27 completed the study. Four participants discontinued the study. Two declined participation before baseline and two withdrew due to problems handling the garment.

METHODS: Participants used the AT with and without electrical stimulation (active/non-active period) for six weeks each, followed by six weeks without treatment. Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS), change in mobility, arm-hand ability, spasticity and pain were measured at baseline and after six, 12 and 18 weeks.

RESULTS: Fifteen of the 27 participants fulfilled the treatment protocol in terms of recommended use. Deviations were frequent. No statistically significant differences in outcome were found between the active and the non-active treatment periods. During the active period, an improvement was seen in the 10-metre comfortable gait test, time and steps. An improvement was seen in both the active and non-active periods for the GAS.

CONCLUSIONS: Compliance was low, partly due to deviations related to the garment, complicating the interpretation of the results. Further research should focus on identifying the target population and concomitant rehabilitation strategies.

CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: The evaluated concept of multifocal transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) represents an interesting addition to the existing repertoire of treatments to alleviate muscle spasticity. The evaluated concept allows TES to be self-administered by the patient in the home environment. A more elaborate design of training activities directly related to patient´s own rehabilitation goals is recommended and may increase the value of the evaluated concept.

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via Evaluation of a self-administered transcutaneous electrical stimulation concept for the treatment of spasticity: a randomised placebo-controlled trial – European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2017 Oct 25 – Minerva Medica – Journals

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[Abstract] Effects of sit-to-stand training combined with transcutaneous electrical stimulation on spasticity, muscle strength and balance ability in patients with stroke: a randomized controlled study

Highlights

  • The effect of sit-to-stand training combined with TENS was evaluated in stroke patients with spastic plantar flexor.
  • TENS followed by sit-to-stand training may improve spasticity, muscle strength and balance.
  • Clinician should consider TENS application prior to sit to stand training for stroke patients with spastic plantar flexor.

Abstract

Sit-to-stand is a fundamental movement of human being for performing mobility and independent activity. However, Stroke people symptoms experience difficulty in conducting the sit-to-stand due to paralysis and especially ankle spasticity. Recently, transcutaneous electrical- stimulation (TENS) is used to reduce pain but also to manage spasticity.

The purpose of this study was to determine

  1. whether TENS would lead to ankle spasticity reduction and (
  2. whether sit-to-stand training combined with TENS would improve spasticity, muscle strength and balance ability in stroke patients.

Forty-stroke patients were recruited and were randomly divided into two groups: TENS group (n = 20) and sham group (n = 20). All participants underwent 30-sessions of sit-to-stand training (for 15-minutes, five-times per week for 6-weeks). Prior to each training session, 30-minutes of TENS over the peroneal nerve was given in TENS group, whereas sham group received non-electrically stimulated TENS for the same amount of time. Composite-Spasticity-Score was used to assess spasticity level of ankle plantar-flexors. Isometric strength in the extensor of hip, knee and ankle were measured by handhelddynamometer. Postural-sway distance was measured using a force platform.

The spasticity score in the TENS group (2.6 ± 0.8) improved significantly greater than the sham group (0.7 ± 0.8, p < 0.05). The muscle strength of hip extensor in the TENS group (2.7 ± 1.1 kg) was significantly higher than the sham group (1.0 ± 0.8 kg, p < 0.05). Significant improvement in postural-sway was observed in the TENS group compared to the sham group (p < 0.05).

Thus, sit-to-stand training combined with TENS may be used to improve the spasticity, balance function and muscle strength in stroke patients.

Source: Effects of sit-to-stand training combined with transcutaneous electrical stimulation on spasticity, muscle strength and balance ability in patients with stroke: a randomized controlled study – Gait & Posture

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[ARTICLE] Smart control for functional electrical stimulation with optimal pulse intensity – Full Text

Abstract

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation is a common treatment option for patients suffering from spinal cord injury or stroke. Two major difficulties arise when employing electrical stimulation in patients: Accurate stimulation electrode placement and configuration of optimal stimulation parameters. Optimizing the stimulation parameters has the advantage to reduce muscle fatigue after repetitive stimulation. Here we present a newly developed system which is able to automatically find the optimal individual stimulation intensity by varying the pulse length. The effectiveness is measured with flex sensors. By adapting the stimulation parameters, the effect of muscle fatigue can be compensated, allowing for a more stable movement upon stimulation over time.

1 Introduction

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) has been used to help patients who suffer from stroke or spinal chord injury for many years now [1]. FES is able to support patients in activities of daily living, like walking or grasping [2]. Performing electrical stimulation in most cases arises two core questions: Where the optimal placement of the stimulation electrodes is and which stimulation intensity should be applied [3]. Addressing the former question, prior studies have investigated the optimal electrode placement by using electrode arrays [4]. Addressing the latter is an equivalently complex question, as parameters vary from patient to patient. Providing neither too strong, nor too weak stimulation intensity is crucial, as too weak stimulation leads to an insufficiently opened hand or incorrect step while walking. Too strong stimulation exhaust the muscles quickly without any further benefit, leading to muscle fatigue [5].

Here we present a newly developed system which is able to increase the intensity of stimulation in a stepwise manner until the optimal point is reached. We demonstrate it’s use in a chronic stroke patient with hand paresis, focusing the opening of the hand. In order to cancel out fatigue, we regulate the intensity, allowing a stable opening of the affected hand.

Continue —>  Smart control for functional electrical stimulation with optimal pulse intensity : Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering

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