Erb's Duchenne paralysis constitutes the single commonest form of brachial plexus injury. Treatment intervention is mainly by physical therapy and surgery. Popular or conventional physiotherapy approaches include exercise therapy, tactile stimulation, soft tissue manipulation techniques and functional splinting. The role of electrical stimulation has been reported in literature but not without differing opinions on its efficacy in early resolution of infantile Erbs palsy.
The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of electrical stimulation and conventional physiotherapy in the early resolution of function in infantile brachial plexus lesion.
Sixteen subjects who were diagnosed to have Erb's palsy were assigned randomly into two groups; A (n = 8) and B (n = 8). While group A was treated with electrical stimulation, group B had conventional physiotherapy treatment. Both groups were seen three times weekly and the study lasted 6 weeks. Four functional variables measured include (a) Shoulder Abduction, (b) Elbow flexion, (c) Wrist extension and (d) Arm circumference (6cm distal to the acromion process). These were evaluated at the baseline (pre-study), 3 weeks into the study and 6 weeks (end of study) periods.
Functional variables did not differ significantly among the groups at the baseline (p > 0.05), shoulder range of motion showed significantly higher increase in group A. At the end of the 6-week intervention, statistically significant differences, with higher increase in group A than group B, were found in all the variables.
The outcome of this study suggests that functional electrical stimulation may be preferred to conventional approach in the course of rehabilitation for an early resolution of function in Erbs paralysis.