Effects of repetitive electrical stimulation to treat sensory loss in persons poststroke

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 Dec;90(12):2108-11. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2009.07.017.


Smith PS, Dinse HR, Kalisch T, Johnson M, Walker-Batson D. Effects of repetitive electrical stimulation to treat sensory loss in persons poststroke.

Objective: To explore the effectiveness of repetitive electrical stimulation referred to here as tactile coactivation and to improve sensory discrimination and function in the most involved hand of a person recovering from stroke.

Design: Pre-experimental 1-group (n=4) design with multiple measures.

Setting: Outpatient stroke treatment center.

Participants: Subjects with 6 months or longer poststroke with self-reported sensory loss and a mild motor impairment in the most involved hand.

Intervention: Electrical stimulation (coactivation) of the fingers of the involved hand for 90 minutes 4 days a week for 6 weeks.

Main outcome measures: Primary-dependent measures included touch threshold, tactile acuity, haptic object recognition, motor tapping task, pegboard activities, and functional tasks from the Wolf Motor Function Test.

Results: Posttreatment assessments revealed improvements in sensory discrimination and motor task performance in all subjects in varying degrees; these results held 4 weeks posttreatment.

Conclusions: The type of repetitive electrical stimulation or tactile coactivation used in this study has not been explored previously in subjects with sensory loss caused by stroke. The results of this pilot study suggest that coactivation may have the potential to be a useful therapeutic modality for this population.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology
  • Motor Skills Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sensation Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sensation Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Touch / physiology*