Purpose: To determine whether functional electrical stimulation (FES) is effective and whether it is more effective than activity training alone.
Method: MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane, Web of Science, and PEDro databases were searched for randomized trials. Studies of randomized trials were included if the participants were children (<18 years old) with spastic cerebral palsy, who underwent a program of FES that involved electrical stimulation during practice of an activity. Measures of activity that best reflected the activity trained were examined.
Results: Five randomized trials were included. Three trials reported statistically significant between-group differences in favor of FES compared with no FES. Two trials reported no statistically significant between-group differences of FES compared with activity training alone.
Conclusion: The available evidence suggests that FES is more effective than no FES but that it has a similar effect as activity training alone in cerebral palsy.