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Transcutaneous functional electrical stimulation for grasping in subjects with cervical spinal cord injury


S. Mangold, T. Keller, A. Curt, V. Dietz

Spinal Cord, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 1-13

Study design: Case series. Objectives: To evaluate the benefit, shortcomings and acceptance of a new transcutaneous functional electrical stimulation (FES) technology aimed at improving the grasp function in tetraplegic subjects in acute and postacute rehabilitation. Setting: Spinal cord injury (SCI) centre, university hospital. Methods: Subjects (N11) with complete or incomplete SCI at C4/5C7 who started FES 167 months after their accident were included. Hand function tests, analysis of video recordings and of written documentation of FES sessions, status of muscle strength, and followup query were used as outcome measures. Results: Nine subjects used FES as a neuroprosthesis. Eight demonstrated improved grasp function and performance in activities of daily living. In one subject, no benefit from FES was observed. Two other subjects showed improvements in muscle strength and facilitation of active movement with FES. Four subjects successfully integrated FES as neuroprosthesis in everyday life within the rehabilitation centre. Three received the system for home use. The most relevant reasons for stopping the FES application were: (i) improvement of voluntary grasp function, (ii) physical and psychological problems, (iii) no available stimulator for home use, and (iv) insufficient assistance for electrode placement at home. Shortcomings related to the transcutaneous surface technology (eg pain or coactivation of neighbouring muscles) could usually be reduced, or did not limit the efficiency or acceptance of FES. Individually designed digital or analogue control devices were preferred. Conclusion: Tetraplegic subjects in acute and postacute rehabilitation can profit froma new transcutaneous FES systemwith respect to functional use and independence. It can be implemented in the rehabilitation programme for muscle strengthening and facilitation of voluntary activity. For a successful application of FES, there is a need for individual electrode placement, stimulation programmes, and FES control devices.

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% Autogenerated BibTeX entry
@Article { ManEtal:2005:IFA_1944,
    author={S. Mangold and T. Keller and A. Curt and V. Dietz},
    title={{Transcutaneous functional electrical stimulation for
	  grasping in subjects with cervical spinal cord injury}},
    journal={Spinal Cord},
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