Content » Vol 29, Issue 1

Original report

The functional value of electrical muscle stimulation for the rehabilitation of the hand in stroke patients

H Hummelsheim, M L Maier-Loth, C Eickhof
Klinik BERLIN, Department of Neurological Rehabilitation, Free University of Berlin, FRG
DOI: 10.2340/16501977199729310


The influence of suprathreshold electrical stimulation of the extensor and flexor carpi radialis muscles on biomechanical and functional movement parameters is compared with the effect of a standardized active repetitive training of hand and fingers. Twelve patients suffering from ischaemic lesions in the territory of the middle cerebral artery participated in the study, which was conducted using a multiple baseline design. Following a baseline phase that lasted between one and three weeks all patients received electrical muscle stimulation for 20 minutes twice daily. In a third phase the repetitive training of hand and fingers was conducted for 20 minutes twice daily. Both interventions were applied in addition to conventional occupational therapy and physiotherapy. With the exception of spasticity in hand and finger flexors, repetitive electrical muscle stimulation does not improve biomechanical or functional motor parameters of the centrally paretic hand and arm. The repetitive motor training, however, is appropriate to improve biomechanical and functional movement parameters significantly. Apart from a possible effect on the muscle cell itself, the electrical muscle stimulation is thought to represent a mainly sensory, i. e. proprioceptive, and cutaneous intervention, whereas the active motor training is characterized by a continuous sensorimotor coupling within motor centres of the brain. The underlying neurophysiological mechanisms as well as basic principles concerning the role of afferent input for motor learning and recovery are discussed.

Lay Abstract


Do you want to comment on this paper? The comments will show up here and if appropriate the comments will also separately be forwarded to the authors. You need to login/create an account to comment on articles. Click here to login/create an account.