Functional electrical stimulation may reduce bradykinesia in Parkinson’s disease: A feasibility study
- Paul Taylor, The National Clinical FES Centre, Salisbury District Hospital, Salisbury, SP2 8BJ, UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Objectives This feasibility study investigated the effect of combined upper and lower limb functional electrical stimulation (FES) to reduce bradykinesia in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Method Eleven people with PD and Hoehn and Yahr score 2–3 used FES to assist dorsiflexion and hand opening or fine hand movements for 2 weeks. Outcome measures were the nine-hole peg test, box and block test, 10 m walking test, Tinetti balance scale, modified Parkinson’s disease quality of life questionnaire (PDQL), SPES/SCOPA scale, and compliance. All tests were carried out without FES. Comparisons were tested using the Student paired t-test.
Results Two participants dropped out due to difficulty in using the equipment. Mean walking speed increased by 0.29 m s−1 (p = 0.002), step length by 0.09 m (p = 0.007), and cadence by 19.8 steps min−1 (p = 0.045). Tinetti balance score increased by 2.9 (p = 0.006). There was an increase in the box and block test of 5.1 (p = 0.025). The PD symptoms score of the PDQL improved by 4.9 (p = 0.013) and a reduction in SPES/SCOPA score of 5.7 (p = 0.005) indicated a reduced impact of PD.
Conclusions FES produced clinically meaningful improvements in gait and upper limb function. Some participants found using both interventions challenging and we would recommend that their introduction be staggered.