Abstract

OBJECTIVE. This study investigated the immediate effects of repetitive neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)–assisted grasp-and-release activities on the hand of patients with tetraplegia.

METHOD. Three participants with C-5–C-6 tetraplegia underwent grasp training with sequential application of NMES to wrist extensors, finger flexors, and finger extensors to assist participants in grasping and then releasing balls. Before the intervention, participants were assessed with the Jebsen–Taylor Hand Function Test and the Box and Block Test. They were evaluated with the same measures after the first and eighth sessions of intervention. Participants participated in eight 30-min sessions over 14 days.

RESULTS. Within-participant improvements in performance were observed in all outcome measures. Subtests of the Jebsen–Taylor Hand Function Test requiring grasping function showed the greatest improvements. Participants reported reduction of spasticity and more effective grasp.

CONCLUSION. NMES-assisted grasp paired with repetitive task practice resulted in improved performance on functional tests and subjectively improved hand function in the participants.

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