November 2023

Immediate Effects of TECAR Therapy on Gastrocnemius and Quadriceps Muscles with Spastic Hypertonia in Chronic Stroke Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Authors: Laura Garcia-Rueda 1, Rosa Cabanas-Valdes 2, Carina Salgueiro 3, Jacobo Rodriguez-Sanz 4, 5, Albert Perez-Bellmunt 4, 5, Carlos Lopez-de-Celis 2, 5, 6


  1. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, 08195 Barcelona, Spain
  2. Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat International de Catalunya, 08195 Barcelona, Spain
  3. Clinica de Neurorehabilitacion Sant Cugat del Valles, 08195 Barcelona, Spain
  4. Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat International de Catalunya, 08195 Barcelona, Spain
  5. ACTIUM Functional Anatomy Group, 08195 Barcelona, Spain
  6. Fundacio Institut Universitari per a la Recerca a l’Atencio Primaria de Salut Jordi Gol i Gurina (IDIAPJGol), 08007 Barcelona, Spain

Journal: Biomedicines - November 2023, Volume 11, Issue 11, Article no. 2973 (DOI: 10.3390/biomedicines11112973)

Background: The aim of this study was to assess changes in muscle properties after a single session of capacitive and resistive energetic transfer (TECAR) therapy on spastic gastrocnemius and quadriceps muscles in chronic post-stroke.

Methods: A total of 36 chronic stroke survivors with lower limb hypertonia were enrolled in a double-blind randomized controlled trial. The experimental group (n = 18) received a single 30 min session of TECAR therapy in combination with functional massage (FM) on the gastrocnemius and quadriceps muscles. The control group (n = 18) received a sham treatment of TECAR therapy (without electrical stimulation) in combination with real FM. The primary outcome was muscle tone of the lower limb muscles assessed with the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS). The secondary outcomes were goniometric degrees of the MAS (goniometer), neuromuscular properties of the gastrocnemius/quadriceps (myotonometer), and passive range of motion (inclinometer). All measurements were performed at baseline (T0), immediately after treatment (T1), and at 30 min post-treatment (T2) by a blinded assessor.

Results: The MAS score ankle dorsiflexion significantly decreased at T0-T1 (p = 0.046), and the change was maintained at T0-T2 (p = 0.019) in the experimental group. Significant improvements were noted in the passive range of motion for knee flexion (p = 0.012) and ankle dorsiflexion (p = 0.034) at T2. In addition, knee flexion improved at T1 (p = 0.019).

Conclusion: A single session of Tecar therapy at the same time with FM on the gastrocnemius and rectus femoris immediately reduces muscle tone and increases the passive range of motion of both ankle and knee in chronic stroke survivors. There were no significant changes in the neuromuscular properties measured with myotonometer.

Keywords: TECAR therapy, stroke, spasticity, functional massage, functionality, capacitive-resistive electric transfer therapy, CRet, muscle tone

According to our results, a single session of TT in combination with FM can immediately increase ankle and knee passive range of motion and reduce muscle tone of gastrocnemius and rectus femoris muscles in chronic stroke survivors. No adverse events were observed in the application of TT plus FM, and the participants rated the treatment as satisfactory.