Effect of electrical stimulation on muscle atrophy and spasticity in patients with spinal cord injury – a systematic review with meta-analysis

Sergio Ricardo Thomaz, Gerson Cipriano, Magno Ferreira Formiga, Emerson Fachin-Martins, Graziella França Bernardelli Cipriano, Wagner Rodrigues Martins, Lawrence Patrick Cahalin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Study design: This work is a systematic review with meta-analysis Objective: Evaluate the effect of electrical stimulation (ES) on skeletal muscle volume and spasticity in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Setting: University of Brasilia, Brazil Methods: Searches were conducted of the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, CINAHL, PEDro, PsycINFO and EMBASE electronic databases for relevant articles published up to June 2018. No restrictions were imposed regarding the year of publication. The inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials involving adults with SCI comparing ES to an active or passive control. Two independent reviewers extracted the data from the selected studies and methodological quality was assessed using the PEDro scale. Results: The initial search led to the retrieval of 164 studies, seven of which met the eligibility criteria, but only six were included in the meta-analysis. The six studies comprised 104 patients with complete or incomplete SCI. In the two studies that investigated the use of ES on muscle volume of the lower limbs, the overall effect was statistically significant in patients with acute SCI (mean difference: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.04 to 1.69; p < 0.04). Among the four studies that examined the use of ES for spasticity of the lower limb, the overall effect was non-significant (mean difference: 0.55; 95% CI: −0.31 to 1.41; p = 0.21). Conclusions: Electrical stimulation was found to be an effective method for increasing muscle volume in SCI patients, but had no effect on spasticity. Further investigation of the effect of ES on spasticity in SCI is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-266
Number of pages9
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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