Patients hospitalized in intensive care units (ICUs) are susceptible to joint contracture and diminished range of motion. This is due to immobility as well as other underlying factors such as brain damage. Joint contracture causes functional disorders thereby diminishing the quality of life of patients following the intensive care period. Recent studies have introduced transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) as a new method for preventing and treating joint contracture. This study was performed to determine the effect of adding TENS to stretch on the range of ankle motion in patients hospitalized in ICUs.
Thirty-six patients admitted to the ICU ward of the hospital who were not able to move their legs voluntarily were assigned randomly into experimental (n = 18) and control (n = 18) groups. The intervention group received TENS along with manual stretch in the ankle three times a week for 2 weeks. The control group only received stretch in the ankle for the same time. The extent of dorsiflexion and plantar flexion of the ankle was measured using a standard goniometer. Both groups were evaluated before and one and 2 weeks after the intervention. The obtained data were analyzed by SPSS 21 through analysis of covariance and repeated measures ANOVA tests.
In both groups, the increase in the ankle range of motion parameters was significant over time (means ranged over 44–48 for plantar flexion and means ranged over 5–11 for dorsiflexion, P < 0.001 for all of time points). The increase in ankle plantar and dorsiflexion in experimental group was significantly more than control group (mean between-group differences ranged over 1.35–3.57 within 95% CI of 1.04 to 4.01, P < 0.001).
Adding TENS to stretch may provide more improvement in ankle dorsiflexion and plantar flexion.
Trial registration: This study was registered in the Iranian Clinical Trial Center with the code IRCT2017010814333N64, registered 20 January 2017.
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