Objective: To assess the efficacy of functional electrical stimulation (FES) in the rehabilitation of hemiparesis in stroke.
Design: A meta-analysis combined the reported randomized controlled trials of FES in stroke, using the effect size method of Glass, and the DerSimonian-Laird Random Effects Method for pooling studies.
Setting: The included studies were published between 1978 and 1992. They were conducted in academic rehabilitation medicine settings.
Patients: In all included studies, patients were in poststroke rehabilitation. The mean time after stroke varied from 1.5 to 29.2 months.
Intervention: FES applied to a muscle or associated nerve in a hemiparetic extremity was compared to No FES.
Main outcome measure: Change in paretic muscle force of contraction following FES was compared to change without FES.
Results: For the four included studies, the mean effect size was .63 (95% CI: .29, .98). This result was statistically significant (p < .05).
Conclusion: Pooling from randomized trials supports FES as promoting recovery of muscle strength after stroke. This effect is statistically significant. There is a reasonable likelihood of clinical significance as well.