Shoulder pain and dysfunction in hemiplegia: Effects of functional electrical stimulation

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Objective: To determine the influence of functional electrical stimulation (FES) on subluxation and shoulder pain in hemiplegic patients. Design: Controlled study of 24 months' duration beginning in the first month after onset of stroke. Subjects and Setting: One hundred twenty hemiplegic patients with both subluxed and painful shoulder were followed for rehabilitation before and after discharge between 1989 and 1993. All subjects received conventional rehabilitation based on the Bobath concept. In addition, patients were alternately assigned to a control group or to receive additional FES for 5 weeks on muscles surrounding their subluxed and painful shoulder. Main Measures: Clinical examinations, including range of motion, pain assessment, and x-rays, were performed at the start of the study, between the second and fourth weeks after onset of stroke, and subsequently at 6, 12, and 24 months. Results: The FES group showed significantly more improvement than the control group in both pain relief (80.7% vs 55.1%, p < .01) and reduction of subluxation (78.9% vs 58.6%, p < .05). Furthermore, recovery of arm motion appeared to be significantly improved in the FES group (77.1% vs 60.3% in the control group, p < .01). Conclusion: The FES program was significantly effective in reducing the severity of subluxation and pain and possibly may have facilitated recovery of the shoulder function in hemiplegic patients.




Chantraine, A., Baribeault, A., Uebelhart, D., & Gremion, G. (1999). Shoulder pain and dysfunction in hemiplegia: Effects of functional electrical stimulation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 80(3), 328–331.

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