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Does cycling induced by functional electrical stimulation enhance motor recovery in the subacute phase after stroke? A systematic review and meta-analysis [with consumer summary]
Ambrosini E, Parati M, Ferriero G, Pedrocchi A, Ferrante S
Clinical Rehabilitation 2020 Jul 2:Epub ahead of print
systematic review

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of cycling with functional electrical stimulation on walking, muscle power and tone, balance and activities of daily living in subacute stroke survivors. DATA SOURCES: Ten electronic databases were searched from inception to February 2020. REVIEW METHODS: Inclusion criteria were: subacute stroke survivors (< 6 months since stroke), an experimental group performing any type of cycling training with electrical stimulation, alone or in addition to usual care, and a control group performing usual care alone. Two reviewers assessed eligibility, extracted data and analyzed the risks of bias. Standardized mean difference (SMD) or mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using fixed- or random-effects models to evaluate the training effect. RESULTS: Seven randomized controlled trials recruiting a total of 273 stroke survivors were included in the meta-analyses. There was a statistically significant, but not clinically relevant, effect of cycling with electrical stimulation compared to usual care on walking (six studies, SMD (95% CI) 0.40 (0.13 to 0.67); p = 0.004), capability to maintain a sitting position (three studies, MD (95% CI) 7.92 (1.01 to 14.82); p = 0.02) and work produced by the paretic leg during pedaling (2 studies, MD (95% CI) 8.13 (1.03 to 15.25); p = 0.02). No significant between-group differences were found for muscular power, tone, standing balance, and activities of daily living. CONCLUSIONS: Cycling training with functional electrical stimulation cannot be recommended in terms of being better than usual care in subacute stroke survivors. Further investigations are required to confirm these results, to determine the optimal training parameters and to evaluate long-term effects.

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