Impaired hand function is one of the most frequently persisting consequences of stroke. The
purpose of this study is to investigate whether two different types of treatment improve
recovery of hand function after stroke.
Loss of hand function is common after stroke. Previous research suggests that treatments
that focus on movement of both hands at the same time or treatments that electrically
stimulate the paretic (weak) hand muscles may help the recovery of hand function after
stroke. In this study, two electrical stimulation treatments will be compared in their
effectiveness in restoring hand movement and hand function. One of the treatments is
stimulation only, and the other is stimulation linked to movement of the contralateral hand.
Study participants will be stroke survivors who are enrolled while they are still within
their first 6 months after their stroke. After enrolling, their hand movement and function
will be tested. Then they will be randomly assigned to one of the two treatments. Each
treatment will last 6 weeks. The treatment will require the participant to perform specific
exercises at home for a total of 2 hours every day and to come to the laboratory twice a
week for study-related occupational therapy. At the end of the 6-week treatment, tests of
hand movement and hand function will be repeated. The same tests will be repeated again at
1 and 3 months after the end of treatment to see if the effects of the treatment persist as
time goes on. Changes in upper extremity impairment and activity limitation will be compared
across treatment groups.
- Age 18 to 80
- Within 6 months of first clinical hemorrhagic or nonhemorrhagic stroke
- Cortical or subcortical stroke
- Unilateral upper extremity hemiparesis with severe finger extensor and flexor paresis
(<= grade 4 on MRC scale)
- Adequate movement of the shoulder and elbow to allow volitional positioning of the
affected hand in the workspace.
- Surface NMES of finger and thumb extensors produces functional hand opening without
- Full volitional opening of the contralateral hand of the unimpaired side.
- Able to follow 3 stage commands
- Able to remember at least 2 of 3 items after 30 minutes
- Able to hear and respond (by opening the less affected hand) to auditory cues issued
from the stimulator?
- Caregiver available and willing to help assist with the device and home regimen and
- Skin intact on hemiparetic arm
- Medically stable
- Insensate forearm and/or hand
- Edema of the affected forearm and/or hand
- History of potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
- Cardiac pacemakers or any other implanted electronic systems
- Pregnant women
- Uncontrolled seizure disorder
- Severely impaired cognition or comprehension
- Uncompensated hemineglect
- Severe depression (>= 13 on Beck Depression Inventory Fast Screen)
- Ipsilateral lower motor neuron lesion
- Parkinson's Disease
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Lack of functional passive range of motion of the wrist or fingers of affected side
- Severe shoulder or hand pain (unable to volitionally position hand in the workspace
- Intramuscular botulinum toxin injections in upper extremity muscle in the last 3