Self-directed home-based neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) in patients with advanced cancer and poor performance status: a feasibility study

Dominic O'Connor, Olive Lennon, Sarah Wright, Brian Caulfield

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Abstract

Purpose
Concurrent neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) involving sub-tetanic low frequency and tetanic high frequency which targets aerobic and muscular fitness is a potential alternative to conventional exercise in cancer rehabilitation. However, its safety and feasibility in patients with advanced cancer are unknown. The aim of this feasibility study was to determine safety and feasibility and evaluate changes in functional and health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) outcomes in individuals with advanced cancer and poor performance status after concurrent NMES. These results should help inform the design of future studies.

Methods
Participants with advanced cancer and poor performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group scale ≥ 2) (n = 18) were recruited. The intervention included a novel NMES intervention implemented over a 4-week period. Functional exercise capacity, lower limb muscle endurance and HR-QoL were measured by 6-min walk test (6MWT), 30-s sit-to-stand (30STS) and European Organization for Research and Treatment quality of life questionnaire core-30 (EORTC QLQ C30) pre and post-intervention. Participants unable to complete the 6-min walk test completed the timed up and go test. Participant experience and the impact of the intervention on daily life were investigated through semi-structured interviews.

Results
Ten of 18 participants completed the intervention. No adverse events were reported. Seven of 8 participants improved 6MWT performance (2 of 2 improved timed up and go), 8 of 10 participants improved 30STS and 8 of 10 participants improved Global quality of life. Perceived benefits included improved mobility and muscle strength.

Conclusions
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation appears safe and feasible in advanced cancer and may improve physical and HR-QoL outcomes. Future prospective trials are warranted to confirm these findings prior to clinical implementation in an advanced cancer setting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Early online date16 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 16 Mar 2020

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