The purpose of this single-site randomized control trial was to assess the short-term and long-term efficacy of functional electrical stimulation (FES) therapy over conventional occupational therapy in improving voluntary hand function in incomplete C4-C7 spinal cord injury individuals. All 22 participants recruited in this randomized control trial received treatment for both the left and right upper extremities. Every participant, irrespective of group allocation, received one dose (60 min per day, 5 days per week for the duration of 8 weeks) of conventional occupational therapy for hand function. Of the 22 participants, 12 individuals received an additional dose of conventional occupational therapy, while the remaining 10 participants received a dose of FES hand therapy. The primary outcome measure was Functional Independence Measure (FIM) self-care subscore. The secondary outcome measures were Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM) self-care subscore and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Hand Function Test (TRI-HFT). The participants who received FES therapy showed significantly greater improvements in hand function at discharge, and were able to maintain their gains at long-term follow-up as assessed using FIM self-care subscore, SCIM self-care subscore, and TRI-HFT. The FES therapy effectively increased independence and thereby improved quality of life of individuals with tetraplegia when compared with conventional occupational therapy.
© 2011, Copyright the Authors. Artificial Organs © 2011, International Center for Artificial Organs and Transplantation and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.