Purpose: This review assesses the effect of electrotherapy (e.g. functional electrical stimulation (FES), motor and sensor therapeutic electrical stimulation (TES)) on muscle strength and skeletal muscle characteristics in individuals post-stroke compared to conventional or sham therapy. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in MEDLINE, SCOPUS, and Web of Science, focusing on randomized controlled trials investigating the effect of electrotherapy. Data of interest was extracted from eligible studies, and risk of bias was assessed. Results: In total, 23 studies (933 people post-stroke) were included, of which 17, which mainly focus on patients in a chronic stage of stroke recovery and the implementation of FES, were incorporated in the meta-analysis. A significant increase in muscle strength was found favoring electrotherapy over conventional therapy (SMD 0.63, 95% CI 0.34–0.91, I2 = 37%, p = 0.07) and over sham therapy (SMD 0.44, 95% CI 0.20–0.68, I2 = 38%, p = 0.08). Three studies investigated the effect on muscle thickness and found a significant increase in favor of electrostimulation when compared to conventional therapy (MD 0.11 cm, 95% CI 0.06–0.16, I2 = 0%, p = 0.50). Conclusion: Current evidence suggests electrotherapy in combination with physiotherapy has positive effects on lower limb muscle strength and skeletal muscle characteristics in patients recovering from stroke.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2024

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