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10 October 2014 : Original article

The Effects of Exercise with TENS on Spasticity, Balance, and Gait in Patients with Chronic Stroke: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Junhyuck ParkABCDEF, Dongkwon SeoCDE, Wonjae ChoiCEF, Seungwon LeeACDF

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.890926

Med Sci Monit 2014; 20:1890-1896

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a useful modality for pain control. TENS has recently been applied to decrease spasticity. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the addition of TENS to an exercise program reduces spasticity and improves balance and gait in chronic stroke patients.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: This was a single-blinded, multicenter, randomized controlled trial. Thirty-four ambulatory individuals with chronic stroke participated and were randomly allocated to the TENS or Placebo group. The TENS group performed therapeutic exercise with TENS while the placebo (non-stimulation) TENS group performed therapeutic exercise with placebo TENS. Participants in both groups followed the same 30-min exercise regimen 5 times per week for a period of 6 weeks. Spasticity (modified Ashworth scale), static (balance system), and dynamic balance (timed up and go test), and gait ability (gait analyzer) were measured at 1 week before and 1 week after the intervention.

RESULTS: Significant differences were observed between the 2 groups. Spasticity improved by 0.80 points in the TENS group. Anterior-posterior and medial-lateral sway velocity among static balance parameters and dynamic balance showed significant differences between the TENS and Placebo TENS groups (p=.000). Gait speed and cadence were enhanced significantly in the TENS group (p=.000). Step and stride length on the paretic side showed a significant difference in the TENS group (p=.000), while only velocity showed a significant difference in the Placebo TENS group (p=.004).

CONCLUSIONS: A combination of therapeutic exercise and TENS may reduce spasticity and improve balance, gait, and functional activity in chronic stroke patients.

Keywords: Exercise, Chronic Disease, Gait, Placebos, postural balance, Single-Blind Method, Stroke - therapy, Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750