To determine whether functional electrical stimulation (FES) is effective and whether it is more effective than activity training alone.
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.
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.
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.