Immediate effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on gait patterns in chronic stroke survivors: A single group, pretest-posttest clinical trial

Wai Hang Kwong (Corresponding Author), C.J.W Donnelly

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has been used to reduce muscle spasticity and improve locomotion in stroke survivors. We speculate that acute changes in gait performance after TENS mediate functional improvement in the long-term. However, no previous study has investigated the effect of TENS on ankle kinetics and kinematics during walking in stroke survivors.

Purpose
We aimed to investigate whether TENS applied over the paretic leg could rapidly improve the plantar flexion moment and ankle kinematics in chronic stroke survivors with lower limb paresis.

Methods
Twenty chronic stroke survivors were recruited. They underwent 30 min of TENS over the area innervated by the common peroneal nerve on the paretic leg. Three-dimensional (3D) motion capture was performed and ankle plantar flexor spasticity was assessed before and immediately after stimulation. Ankle kinematics and kinetic and spatiotemporal data were collected using 3D motion capture. Ankle plantar flexor spasticity was assessed using the Modified Tardieu Scale.

Principal results
A significant increase in the ankle plantar flexion moment of the paretic side during the pre-swing phase was observed immediately after stimulation (p = 0.009, maximal mean difference = 0.035, 95%CI = 0.0125 to 0.0575). The step length of the paretic limb also increased significantly after stimulation (p = 0.023, mean difference = −0.02, 95%CI = −0.04 to −0.004). TENS had no immediate effect on paretic ankle spasticity, as measured by the Modified Tardieu Scale, or on other temporo-spatial parameters.

Conclusion
The findings support the use of TENS to improve the motor function and gait pattern in chronic stroke survivors. The study indicated that the application of TENS to the paretic leg before gait training might improve rehabilitation outcomes. Future studies investigating the effects of TENS on functional outcomes, the optimal stimulation duration, and assessing spasticity using more sensitive measures are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102948
JournalHuman Movement Science
Volume83
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Ankle
  • Gait
  • Kinematic
  • Kinetic
  • Spasticity
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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