Objective: To investigate the effects of functional electrical stimulation (FES) combined with conventional rehabilitation program on the effort and speed of walking, the surface electromyographic (sEMG) activity and metabolic responses in the management of drop foot in stroke subjects. Methods: Fifteen patients with a drop foot resulting from stroke at least 3. months prior to the start of the trial took part in this study. All subjects were treated 1. h a day, 5. days a week, for 12. weeks, including conventional stroke rehabilitation program and received 30. min of FES to the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle of the paretic leg in clinical settings. Baseline and post-treatment measurements were made for temporal and spectral EMG parameters of TA muscle, walking speed, the effort of walking as measured by physiological cost index (PCI) and metabolic responses. Results: The experimental results showed a significant improvement in mean-absolute-value (21.7%), root-mean-square (66.3%) and median frequency (10.6%) of TA muscle EMG signal, which reflects increased muscle strength. Mean increase in walking speed was 38.7%, and a reduction in PCI of 34.6% between the beginning and at end of the trial. Improvements were also found in cardiorespiratory responses with reduction in oxygen consumption (24.3%), carbon dioxide production (19.9%), heart rate (7.8%) and energy cost (22.5%) while walking with FES device. Conclusions: The results indicate that the FES may be a useful therapeutic tool combined with conventional rehabilitation program to improve the muscle strength, walking ability and metabolic responses in the management of drop foot with stroke patients. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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