Review article (meta-analysis)| Volume 99, ISSUE 5, P1011-1022.e1, May 2018

Effectiveness of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation on Lower Limbs of Patients With Hemiplegia After Chronic Stroke: A Systematic Review

Published:January 19, 2018DOI:



      To investigate the effectiveness of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) with or without other interventions in improving lower limb activity after chronic stroke.

      Data Sources

      Electronic databases, including PubMed, EMBase, Cochrane Library, PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), and PsycINFO, were searched from the inception to January 2017.

      Study Selection

      We selected the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving chronic stroke survivors with lower limb dysfunction and comparing NMES or combined with other interventions with a control group of no electrical stimulation treatment.

      Data Extraction

      The primary outcome was defined as lower limb motor function, and the secondary outcomes included gait speed, Berg Balance Scale, timed Up and Go, 6-minute walk test, Modified Ashworth Scale, and range of motion.

      Data Synthesis

      Twenty-one RCTs involving 1481 participants were identified from 5759 retrieved articles. Pooled analysis showed that NMES had a moderate but statistically significant benefit on lower limb motor function (standard mean difference 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.26–0.58), especially when NMES was combined with other interventions or treatment time within either 6 or 12 weeks. NMES also had significant benefits on gait speed, balance, spasticity, and range of motion but had no significant difference in walking endurance after NMES.


      NMES combined with or without other interventions has beneficial effects in lower limb motor function in chronic stroke survivors. These data suggest that NMES should be a promising therapy to apply in chronic stroke rehabilitation to improve the capability of lower extremity in performing activities.


      List of abbreviations:

      6MWT (6-minute walk test), 10MWT (10-meter walk test), AFO (ankle-foot orthosis), BBS (Berg Balance Scale), CI (confidence interval), ES (electrical stimulation), FDS (foot drop stimulator), FES (functional electrical stimulation), GA (gait analysis), MAS (Modified Ashworth Scale), NMES (neuromuscular electrical stimulation), PNS (peroneal nerve stimulation), RCT (randomized controlled trials), ROM (range of motion), SMD (standard mean difference), TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), TUG (Timed Up and Go)
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