BiofeedbackCochrane LibraryPhysiotherapyStroke

Assessing the value of biofeedback following stroke

Despite evidence from a few studies, electromyographic biofeedback (EMG-BFB) plus standard physiotherapy does not produce improvements compared to physiotherapy alone, according to this Cochrane Review.

First, the details.

  • 13 studies of 269 stoke patients where reviewed.
  • EMG-BFB plus standard physiotherapy was compared to standard physiotherapy alone or with sham EMG-BFB.

And, the results.

  • One study reported improved motor strength with EMG-BFB.
  • One study suggested a benefit in range of motion at the shoulder.
  • There was no benefit in range of motion in the ankle, knee, or wrist joints.
  • Stride length or gait speed was not improved by EMG-BFB.

The bottom line?
According to the reviewers, “When taken together, studies of EMG-BFB do not support a treatment benefit beyond what can be achieved with physiotherapy alone.”

The biggest problem confronted by the reviewers was the lack of standardization of study design and measures of response to treatment. What is available doesn’t support EMG-BFB, but it also makes a definitive assessment impossible.

7/24/07 12:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.