To evaluate upper extremity (UE) function, strength, and dynamic sitting balance in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) who received an intensive outpatient therapy program focused on UE training augmented with wide pulse/high frequency functional electrical stimulation (WPHF-FES).


This prospective case series was conducted in an outpatient (OP) clinic in an SCI-specific rehabilitation hospital. Participants were a convenience sample (N = 50) of individuals with tetraplegia receiving OP therapy focused on UE recovery. Individuals participated in 60 minutes of UE functional task-specific practice (FTP) in combination with WPHF-FES 5 times/week for an average of 72 sessions. The primary outcome for this analysis was the Capabilities of Upper Extremity Test (CUE-T). Secondary outcomes include UE motor score (UEMS) and the modified functional reach (MFR).


Fifty individuals (13 motor complete; 37 motor incomplete SCI) completed an OP UE training program incorporating WPHF-FES and were included in this analysis. On average, participants demonstrated significant improvements in the total CUE-T score of 14.1 (SD = 10.0, p < .0001) points; significant changes were also noted in UEMS and MFR, improving an average of 4.6 (SD = 5.2, p < .0001) points and 13.6 (SD = 15.8, p < .0001) cm, respectively.


Individuals with tetraplegia demonstrated significant improvements in UE strength, function, and dynamic sitting trunk balance after receiving UE training augmented with WPHF-FES. Future comparative effectiveness studies need to be completed to guide efficacious treatment interventions in OP therapy.

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