Objective: To investigate the feasibility of percutaneous intramuscular neuromuscular electric stimulation (perc-NMES) for treating shoulder subluxation and pain in patients with chronic hemiplegia.
Design: Before-after trial.
Setting: University-affiliated tertiary care hospital.
Participants: A convenience sample of 8 neurologically stable subjects with chronic hemiplegia and shoulder subluxation.
Intervention: Six weeks of perc-NMES to the subluxated shoulder.
Main outcome measures: Shoulder subluxation (radiograph), shoulder pain (Brief Pain Inventory), motor impairment (Fugl-Meyer score), shoulder pain-free external rotation (handheld goniometer), and disability (FIM instrument) were assessed before treatment (T1), after 6 weeks of neuromuscular stimulation (T2), and at 3-month follow-up (T3). A 1-way, repeated-measures analysis of variance using the generalized estimating equation approach was used to evaluate differences from T1 to T2 and from T1 to T3 for all outcome measures.
Results: Subluxation (p =.0117), pain (p =.0115), shoulder pain-free external rotation (p <.0001), and disability (p =.0044) improved significantly from T1 to T2. Subluxation (p =.0066), pain (p =.0136), motor impairment (p <.0001), shoulder pain-free external rotation (p =.0234), and disability (p =.0152) improved significantly from T1 to T3.
Conclusions: Perc-NMES is feasible for treating shoulder dysfunction in hemiplegia and may reduce shoulder subluxation, reduce pain, improve range of motion, enhance motor recovery, and reduce disability in patients with chronic hemiplegia and shoulder subluxation. Further investigation is warranted.