One of the first things you may realize about your post-stroke life is that some things aren’t as easy as they used to be. While this can affect many aspects of daily living, it is most troubling when the difficulties are related to something that used to come naturally. In this case, we’re talking about moving from sitting to standing. You probably took this movement for granted in your pre-stroke life, but it can be a struggle after a stroke. According to researchers from South Korea, this change might not be something you have to learn to live with.
A study about TENS
The team of researchers investigated the use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to treat spasticity (continuous contraction) in the muscles that control foot flex. TENS is a system that stimulates the nerves with low-voltage electrical currents delivered via adhesive pads. From a group of 40 patients treated with daily 15-minute sit-to-stand training and conventional rehabilitation, 20 were randomly selected for additional treatment with TENS.
After six weeks, the results were clear. Patients treated with TENS showed a significant decrease in spasticity in the muscles that control the foot. Patients using TENS also showed improvements in their balance while standing and an increase in the strength of the muscles that extend the hip. Only one patient reported discomfort when using the system. The patient described it as a slight, temporary redness at the site of the pad.
Based on these results, TENS could change the way we think about stroke recovery and help patients get their mobility back. Talk with your therapist about implementing TENS into your rehabilitation program. It’s already widely used in pain relief, so it’s likely they already familiar with the system.
TENS: it could help you stand tall again.
The lead author of this study is Dr. Kyoung-Sim Jung, Department of Occupational Therapy, Semyung University, Jecheon, Republic of Korea.