10-1 The Effect of Somatosensory Electrical Stimulation on Recovery Following a Stroke
The Effect of Somatosensory Electrical Stimulation on Recovery Following a Stroke: A Systematic Review
Yocheved Laufer, PT, D.Sc, Physical Therapy Department,
Studies regarding brain plasticity indicate that changes in somatosensory input affect cortical organization in healthy subjects as well as in subjects following a stroke. The purpose of this review is to assess the available evidence regarding the effects of sensory input delivered via transcutaneous electrical stimulation on functional recovery following a stroke. Seventeen relevant articles were identified via a systematic literature search performed in the following databases: PubMed, CINAHL, Pedro, and the Cochrane Library. The studies found were characterized by a large variability in their research methodology and quality; in the specific stimulation parameters used; in the outcome measures evaluated; and in the study results. Yet, with one exception, all of the studies demonstrated that sensory stimulation has a significant effect on at least one functional outcome, thereby indicating the beneficial results of incorporating this treatment into the rehabilitation program. Further studies are necessary to assist in the clinical decision as to when and how sensory electrical stimulation best benefits patients following a stroke.
Key words: sensory electrical stimulation, functional recovery, stroke