Electromyographic Biofeedback Applications to the Hemiplegic Patient

Changes in Upper Extremity Neuromuscular and Functional Status

Steven L Wolf, Stuart A Binder-Macleod


The effect of a specific EMG biofeedback treatment protocol on quantified changes in neuromuscular measures and functional activities was examined among the upper extremities of 22 chronic stroke patients who each received 60 feedback training sessions. These data were compared with changes measured from a Control Group of 9 (no treatment) patients. Those patients receiving feedback training showed significant improvements in numerous neuromuscular measures but not in functional measures. When the Experimental Group was subdivided into two groups (hand, n = 5; no hand, n = 17) on the basis of acquiring a specific hand function, significant pretreatment differences in neuromuscular status emerged. Based upon these pretreatment differences and outcome measures, characteristics possibly predictive of beneficial outcomes from EMG biofeedback training were exposed. Chronic stroke patients who gained maximal functional benefits from the biofeedback intervention initially had greater active range of motion at all major upper extremity joints and comparatively less hyperactivity within typically “spastic” muscles. Electromyographic biofeedback can lead to substantial improvements among select chronic stroke patients and can be of considerable functional benefit to others.

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  • Received February 23, 1983.
  • Accepted April 13, 1983.