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Functional electrical stimulation therapy improves grasping in chronic cervical spinal cord injury: Two case studies

Author(s): Miller Rosalynn C. | Popović Miloš R. | Thrasher Adam T. | Verrier Molly

Journal: Journal of Automatic Control
ISSN 1450-9903

Volume: 18;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 53;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: chronic spinal cord injury | functional electrical stimulation therapy | hand function | restoration of voluntary function

OBJECTIVE AND IMPORTANCE: To present case studies of two individuals with chronic cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) who participated in functional electrical stimulation (FES) therapy with the objective to restore voluntary grasp function. CLINICAL PRESENTATION: Both individuals (right hand dominant males, age 24 and 31) had a sustained a cervical SCI (C6 and C4-5, respectively) at least 8 years prior to participation in this study. INTERVENTION: Both individuals participated in an individualized FES therapy program for 6 weeks. FES therapy was administered through a regimen of three, one-hour sessions, per week for three months. A single arm of each participant (n = 2) was treated. FES therapy is an integrative intervention strategy combining muscle strengthening, functional movement training and stretching. The participant's hand movement abilities were assessed pre and post FES therapy using the Manual Muscle Test (MMT), a modified Sollerman Hand Function Test (mSHFT), and the Reach, Grasp, Transport and Release Task (RGTR). DISCUSSION: As the injuries of participants in the current study were chronic and thus neurologically stable, no spontaneous improvements/recovery in hand function was expected. However, FES as part of an integrated therapeutic approach affected restoration and improvement of hand function in both participants. CONCLUSION: The concurrent improvement in strength, integrated motor function and object contact following FES therapy, demonstrated that there is potential for affecting change in hand function of individuals with chronic SCI.
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