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Improved gait speed in spastic paraplegia: a new modality


Objectives The gait disturbance in spastic paraplegic patients lowers the gait speed, increases fall risk and eventually lower the quality of life. This study aims to investigate the effect of electrical twitch obtaining intramuscular stimulation (ETOIMS) on spastic paraplegic patients’ gait speed and pattern.

Methods A prospective short-term cohort study was designed in the outpatient clinic of the department of rehabilitation in a tertiary hospital. Patients with spastic paraplegia (N=5) were participated, including spinal cord tumour (N=2), cervical myelitis (N=1), hereditary spastic paraplegia (NIPA1 mutation; N=1) and spinal cord injury (N=1). The participants underwent ETOIMS. The target muscles were the bilateral quadratus lumborum, multifidus inserting to the L4 and L5 spinous process, and gluteus medius. Gait speed, gait pattern and subjective symptoms, including pain scores (measured by visual analogue scale), were compared before and immediately after the intervention.

Results All patients subjectively reported reduced stiffness during walking and alleviated muscular pain in the lower back and gluteal area. After one session of ETOIMS, patient 1–4 showed 57%, 29%, 33% and 6 % improvement in gait speed, respectively, and all patients showed increased pelvic dissociation.

Conclusions The ETOIMS can be effective in improving gait speed and stability by relaxing the muscles or alleviating the pain in the lower back and gluteal area in spastic paraplegic patients.

  • spastic paraplegia
  • electric stimulation
  • walking speed
  • muscle relaxation
  • gait

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