Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Benefits of electrical stimulation therapy found with people paralyzed by spinal cord injury

Date:
February 18, 2011
Source:
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Summary:
A new treatment approach which uses tiny bursts of electricity to reawaken paralyzed muscles "significantly" reduced disability and improved grasping in people with incomplete spinal cord injuries, beyond the effects of standard therapy, new research shows.

A new treatment approach which uses tiny bursts of electricity to reawaken paralyzed muscles "significantly" reduced disability and improved grasping ability in people with incomplete spinal cord injuries, according to results published February 17.

In a study posted online in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, Toronto researchers report that functional electrical stimulation (FEFirst-of-its-kind study shows benefits of electrical stimulation therapy for people paralyzed by spinal cord injuryS) therapy worked considerably better than conventional occupational therapy alone to increase patients' ability to pick up and hold objects.

FES therapy uses low-intensity electrical pulses generated by a pocket-sized electric stimulator. Unlike permanent FES systems, the one designed by Dr. Popovic and colleagues is for short-term treatment. The therapist uses the stimulator to make muscles move in a patient's limb. The idea is that after many repetitions, the nervous system can 'relearn' the motion and eventually activate the muscles on its own, without the device.

The randomized trial, believed to be the first of its kind, involved 21 rehabilitation inpatients who could not grasp objects or perform many activities of daily living. All received conventional occupational therapy five days per week for eight weeks. However, one group (9 people) also received an hour of stimulation therapy daily, while another group (12 people) had an additional hour of conventional occupational therapy only.

Patients who received only occupational therapy saw a "gentle improvement" in their grasping ability, but the level of improvement achieved with stimulation therapy was at least three times greater using the Spinal Cord Independence Measure, which evaluates degree of disability in patients with spinal cord injury.

Based on their findings, the study's authors recommend that stimulation therapy should be part of the therapeutic process for people with incomplete spinal cord injuries whose hand function is impaired.

Dr. Popovic's team has almost completed a prototype of their stimulator, but need financial support to take it forward. Dr. Popovic thinks the device could be available to hospitals within a year of being funded. One limitation of the study is that the research team could not get all participants to take part in a six-month follow-up assessment. However, six individuals who received FES therapy were assessed six months after the study. All had better hand function after six months than on the day they were discharged from the study.

Dr. Popovic stresses that FES therapy should augment, and not replace, existing occupational therapy. Another study, now underway, will determine whether stimulation therapy can improve grasping ability in people with chronic (long-term) incomplete spinal cord injuries.

"This study proves that by stimulating peripheral nerves and muscles, you can actually 'retrain' the brain," says the study's lead author, Dr. Milos R. Popovic, a Senior Scientist at Toronto Rehab and head of the Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory. "A few years ago, we did not believe this was possible."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. R. Popovic, N. Kapadia, V. Zivanovic, J. C. Furlan, B. C. Craven, C. McGillivray. Functional Electrical Stimulation Therapy of Voluntary Grasping Versus Only Conventional Rehabilitation for Patients With Subacute Incomplete Tetraplegia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/1545968310392924

Cite This Page:

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. "Benefits of electrical stimulation therapy found with people paralyzed by spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217125113.htm>.
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. (2011, February 18). Benefits of electrical stimulation therapy found with people paralyzed by spinal cord injury. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217125113.htm
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. "Benefits of electrical stimulation therapy found with people paralyzed by spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217125113.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) The World Health Organizations says TB numbers rose in 2013, but it's partly due to better detection and more survivors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins