OBJECTIVE. Conventional methods for managing upper-extremity (UE) spasticity are invasive, usually require readministration after a certain time period, and do not necessarily increase UE function. This study examined efficacy of combining two singularly efficacious modalities—UE bracing and electrical stimulation—with functional training to reduce UE spasticity and improve function.
METHOD. Two chronic stroke patients exhibiting UE spasticity were administered the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), the upper-extremity section of the Fugl-Meyer Impairment Scale (FM), the Box and Block Test (B&B), and the Arm Motor Ability Test (AMAT). They were then individually fitted for a brace and subsequently participated in treatment sessions occurring 2 days/wk for 5 wk, consisting of (1) 30-min clinical sessions, during which the UE was braced in a functional position while cyclic electrical stimulation was applied to the antagonist extensors of the tricep and forearm, and (2) 15-min, clinically based training sessions, occurring directly after the clinical session.
RESULTS. After intervention, participants exhibited 1-point reductions in MAS scores for the affected fingers, FM score increases, and increased ability to perform AMAT activities,. Three months later, both participants retained these changes.
CONCLUSION. Data point to a noninvasive, promising method of managing spasticity and rendering functional changes.