Neuromuscular electrical stimulation and dynamic bracing for the management of upper-extremity spasticity in children with cerebral palsy

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2006 Jul;48(7):559-63. doi: 10.1017/S0012162206001186.


A prospective study was designed to determine whether the combined use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and dynamic bracing was more effective than use of either alone in reducing upper-extremity spasticity in children with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Twenty-four patients (12 males, 12 females; mean age 8y 7mo [SD 4y 2mo]; age range 3-18y) diagnosed with spastic hemiplegic CP were randomly allocated to three groups: group 1 had two 30-minute sessions of NMES a day applied on the antagonist extensors without bracing; group 2 had two 30-minute sessions of dynamic bracing per day; and group 3 had two 30-minute sessions of NMES and dynamic bracing every day. Treatment was continued for 6 months in all groups and applied only to the affected extremity. Patients were evaluated before therapy, at monthly intervals during the therapy, and 3 months after completion of the therapy. Three measures of outcome were taken: the Melbourne Assessment, grip strength, and posture evaluation with Zancolli's classification. The therapist performing the outcome assessments was blinded as to groups. Statistically significant differences were found in all three measures for only those treated with combined NMES and dynamic bracing. However, this significant effect lasted for only 2 months after discontinuation of the treatment. We conclude that the combined use of NMES and bracing is more effective than either alone but requires continuous application.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arm
  • Braces*
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Child
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Muscle Spasticity / etiology
  • Muscle Spasticity / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome