Background: Spasticity after lesions of central motor pathways may be disabling and there is a need for new, cost-effective treatment methods. One novel approach is offered by the electro-dress Mollii®, primarily designed to enhance reciprocal inhibition of spastic muscles by multifocal, transcutaneous antagonist stimulation.
Methods: The Mollii® suit was set individually for 20 participants living with spasticity and hemiplegia after stroke and used in the home setting for 6 weeks. Usability and perceived effects were monitored by weekly telephone interviews. Outcome was assessed by use of the NeuroFlexor™ method for quantification of the neural component (NC) of resistance to passive stretch (spasticity), and the modified Ashworth scale (MAS) for total resistance, Fugl-Meyer Assessment of motor recovery for sensorimotor function in upper (FM-UE) and lower extremities (FM-LE), activity performance with the Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), Berg balance scale, 10 m and 6 min walk tests, and perceived functioning with the Stroke Impact Scale.
Results: Compliance was high (mean 19.25 of 21 sessions). Perceived positive effects were reported by 60% and most commonly related to decreased muscle tone (n = 9), improved gait pattern function (n = 7) and voluntary movement in the upper extremity (n = 6). On a group level, the NC decreased significantly in the wrist flexors of the affected hand (p = 0.023) and significant improvements according to FM-UE (p = 0.000) and FM-LE (p = 0.003) were seen after the intervention. No significant difference was detected with MAS or assessed activity performance, except for the ARAT (p = 0.000). FM-UE score change correlated significantly and fairly with the perceived effect in the upper extremity (r 0.498 p = 0.025) and in the corresponding analysis for the FM-LE and perceived effect in the lower extremity (r = 0.469 p = 0.037).
Conclusion: This study indicates that the Mollii® method is feasible when used in the home setting to decrease spasticity and improve sensorimotor function. The results may guide a larger controlled study combined with rehabilitation interventions to enhance effects on activity and participation domains.
Trial registration: NCT04076878 . Registered 2 September 2019 - Retrospectively registered.
Keywords: Clinical assessments; Home setting; Outcome; Self-administered; Self-perceived; Spasticity; Stroke.