Effect of Early Radial Shock Wave Treatment on Spasticity in Subacute Stroke Patients: A Pilot Study.
Summary: This study evaluated the effectiveness of radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT) in the treatment of patients with subacute stroke with spasticity.
Conclusion: In patients with subacute stroke with spasticity, treatment with radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy appears to be effective.
Spasticity is a complication that can start immediately after stroke. Radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT) is a physical therapy tool used to manage chronic spasticity. However, the effect of rESWT's early use to treat spasticity after stroke is still not clearly investigated. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of rESWT in improving poststroke spasticity of the upper limb in patients with a recent onset of spasticity compared to conventional physiotherapy alone. 40 stroke patients were randomly assigned to experimental (EG) or control group (CG). Both groups underwent two daily sessions of conventional rehabilitation therapy (CRT) 5 days per week; the EG underwent one rESWT session a week for 4 weeks. The modified Ashworth scale (MAS) tested at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist was used as outcome measure. MAS was evaluated at baseline, after 2 and 4 rESWT session, and one month after the last session (follow-up). No significant differences between groups were found at baseline in terms of age, days from onset of spasticity after stroke, and MAS at each body segment. The sample lost eight drop-out patients. Except for the shoulder MAS values, the EG showed statistically significant lower MAS values already after the second rESWT session compared to CG. This significant difference was maintained until the follow-up. The CG showed a significant increase of wrist spasticity after the second evaluation, while the EG maintained constant MAS values throughout the observational period. The elbow spasticity was significantly higher in the CG at the follow-up evaluation. The rESWT combined with CRT seems to be effective in avoiding the increasing progression of spasticity after stroke.