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Electrical Somatosensory Stimulation in Early Rehabilitation of Arm Paresis After Stroke: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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  1. Predictors of Access to Rehabilitation in the Year Following Traumatic Brain Injury: A European Prospective and Multicenter Study

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BACKGROUND: Arm paresis is present in 48% to 77% of acute stroke patients. Complete functional recovery is reported in only 12% to 34%. Although the arm recovery is most pronounced during the first 4 weeks poststroke, few studies examined the effect of upper extremity interventions during this period.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of electrical somatosensory stimulation (ESS) delivered during early stroke rehabilitation on the recovery of arm functioning.

METHODS: A total of 102 patients with arm paresis were randomized to a high-dose or a low-dose ESS group within 7 days poststroke according to our sample size estimation. The high-dose group received 1-hour ESS to the paretic arm daily during hospitalization immediately followed by minimum 15-minute task-oriented arm training that was considered a component of the usual rehabilitation. The low-dose group received a placebo ESS followed by identical training. Primary outcome-Box and Block Test (BBT); secondary outcomes-Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA), grip strength, pinch strength, perceptual threshold of touch, pain, and modified Rankin Scale (mRS); all recorded at baseline, postintervention and at 6 months poststroke.

RESULTS: There were no differences between the high-dose and the low-dose groups for any outcome measures at any time points. Improvements ⩾ minimal clinically important difference were observed for FMA, hand grip strength, and mRS in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Providing the present ESS protocol prior to arm training was equally beneficial as arm training alone. These results are valid for patients with mild-to-moderate stroke and moderate arm impairments. We cannot exclude benefits in patients with other characteristics, in other time intervals poststroke or using a different ESS protocol.


Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)899-912
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

ID: 56198839