Purpose: To determine the effects of functional electrical stimulation (FES) on the main impairments affecting gait in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy.
Methods: A 20-week, multiple single-subject A-B-A design included a 6-week pre-FES phase, an 8-week FES phase, and a 6-week post-FES phase. Twelve children, aged 5 to 16 years, wore an FES device (the Walk Aide) daily for 8 weeks. Weekly measures included ankle range of motion, selective motor control, dorsiflexion and plantar flexion strength, gastrocnemius spasticity, single-limb balance, Observational Gait Scale (OGS) score, and self-reported toe drag and falls in the community.
Results: Compared with the pre-FES phase, the FES phase showed significant improvements in ankle range of motion, selective motor control and strength, and reductions in spasticity, toe drag, and falls, but no change in OGS score. These improvements were maintained during the post-FES phase.
Conclusions: Intermittent, short-term use of FES is potentially effective for reducing impairments affecting gait in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy.
The authors report that intermittent, short-term use of FES is potentially effective for improving impairments affecting gait in children with unilateral spastic CP.
The Centre For Cerebral Palsy (Ms Pool and Dr Blackmore) and School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health (Ms Pool), The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia; Natasha Bear Statistics (Ms Bear), Perth, Western Australia, Australia; Department of Pediatric Rehabilitation (Dr Valentine), Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
Correspondence: Dayna Pool, BSc Physio (Hons), The Centre For Cerebral Palsy, 106 Bradford St, Coolbinia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia 6050 (Dayna.Pool@tccp.com.au).
Grant Support: This research was funded by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation at The Centre for Cerebral Palsy.
At the time this article was written, Dayna Pool was a student at School of Sport Science Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.