Electrical stimulation as a means for achieving recovery of function in stroke patients

NeuroRehabilitation. 2009;25(1):45-58. doi: 10.3233/NRE-2009-0498.


This review presents technologies used in and assesses the main clinical outcomes of electrical therapies designed to speed up and increase functional recovery in stroke patients. The review describes methods which interface peripheral systems (e.g., cyclic neural stimulation, stimulation triggered by electrical activity of muscles, therapeutic functional electrical stimulation) and transcranial brain stimulation with surface and implantable electrodes. Our conclusion from reviewing these data is that integration of electrical therapy into exercise-active movement mediated by electrical activation of peripheral and central sensory-motor mechanisms enhances motor re-learning following damage to the central nervous system. Motor re-learning is considered here as a set of processes associated with practice or experience that leads to long-term changes in the capability for movement. An important suggestion is that therapeutic effects are likely to be much more effective when treatment is applied in the acute, rather than in the chronic, phase of stroke.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*