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Electrical stimulation applied to the triceps muscle post stroke is useful to address a number of treatment goals including: preservation of elbow range of motion/prevention of biceps contracture, motor facilitation, reduction of upper limb flexor synergy & spasticity, weight bearing practice on the affected limb and overall improvement of upper limb alignment and posture.
Patients post stroke who do not regain voluntary elbow extension or who present with an elbow extension lag should be considered for neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES).
Baker et al., in NeuroMuscular Electrical Stimulation, A Practical Guide, 3rd Edition (Los Amigos Research & Education Inc.,) offer a valuable rationale for NMES application to triceps post stroke …” while soft tissue mobilization may enhance a stretching program, NMES provides the repetitive range required in a nonthreatening manner, allowing the patient to relax and allowing the elbow joint to move through its maximal extent”.
NMES additionally is a time efficient means of providing necessary elbow joint range of motion without need for “hands on” manual assistance throughout the treatment.
NMES can also be continued at home to preserve range of motion and address limb spasticity, as needed, over the long term.
More on triceps NMES in future blogs