The effects of functional electrical stimulation on shoulder subluxation, arm function recovery, and shoulder pain in hemiplegic stroke patients

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1994 Jan;75(1):73-9.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a functional electrical stimulation (FES) treatment program designed to prevent glenohumeral joint stretching and subsequent subluxation and shoulder pain in stroke patients. Twenty-six recent hemiplegic stroke patients with shoulder muscle flaccidity were randomly assigned to either a control group (n = 13; 5 female, and 8 male) or experimental group (n = 13; 6 female, and 7 male). Both groups received conventional physical therapy. The experimental group received additional FES therapy where two flaccid/paralyzed shoulder muscles (supraspinatus and posterior deltoid) were induced to contract repetitively up to 6 hours a day for 6 weeks. Duration of both the FES session and muscle contraction/relaxation ratio were progressively increased as performance improved. The experimental group showed significant improvements in arm function, electromyographic activity of the posterior deltoid, range of motion, and reduction in subluxation (as indicated by x-ray) compared with the control group. We concluded that the FES program was effective in reducing the severity of shoulder subluxation and pain, and possibly facilitating recovery of arm function.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Hemiplegia / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Hypotonia / complications
  • Muscle Hypotonia / therapy*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Dislocation / etiology
  • Shoulder Dislocation / prevention & control