Functional Electrical Stimulation to improve upper extremity function in young children with perinatal stroke: A proof of concept study

Pediatric upper extremity rehabilitation intervention (for hemiparesis/hemiplegia)


The purpose of the study is to compare functional electrical stimulation (FES) for the arm to conventional arm therapy. FES involves applying a weak electrical current to weak or paralyzed muscles to make them move.


Peter Rumney,Dr. Kristin Musselman, PT, PhD

Participate in this study

Does your child have weakness in one arm? Consider participating in our study.

Who can participate

Children with cerebral palsy and weakness in one arm who are 3-6 years old are eligible to participate.

Exclusion criteria: botox administered to the arm within the last 6 months; severe contractures of the arms; epilepsy or frequent seizures; implanted electrical devices (e.g. pacemaker); ability to sit unsupported during play for less than 5 minutes; other medical conditions or nerve injuries affecting the arm/hand.

What's Involved

You and your child will be asked to attend 7 testing sessions and 36 therapy sessions over 9 months. Each session will last about 1 hour.  Your child will be randomly assigned to 1 of the 2 therapies (FES or conventional arm therapy). During both therapies, your child will practice arm movements while playing with a variety of toys, with an occupational or physical therapist, in a child-friendly room. Children in the FES group will receive FES while practicing arm movements. FES electrode stickers will be placed on their affected arm and hand. During testing sessions, clinical assessments for the arm will be completed. During 4 therapy sessions, child participants will be asked to wear watch-like monitors on their wrists to record their movement. Videotaping of assessments and 4 of the 36 therapy sessions will take place. We will provide reimbursement for travel and parking expenses. The testing and therapy sessions will take place at Lyndhurst Centre – Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, 520 Sutherland Dr., Toronto. Assessment and therapy sessions may be scheduled on weekdays or weekends, during daytime or evening times.


December 31, 2019

Funding Agency

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC)

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Learn more about this study

Learn more about this study