Safety and feasibility of electrical muscle stimulation in patients undergoing autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation or intensive chemotherapy.


Clinic for Hematology and Oncology, University Hospital Saarland, Homburg, Germany. [Email]


Intensive chemotherapy, with or without following autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), is often the only curative treatment option for patients with hematological malignancies and leave many survivors physically and psychologically impaired. Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is a proven tool to improve physical performance in seniors and patients with chronic diseases. We therefore investigated the safety and feasibility of EMS in 45 patients undergoing autologous HSCT (n = 13), allogeneic HSCT (n = 11) and intensive chemotherapy (n = 21). Furthermore, physical (assessed by 6-min walking distance (6MWD) and short physical performance battery (SPPB)) and psychological performance (assessed by multidimensional fatigue inventory (MFI) and the EORTC QOL-C30 questionnaire) were measured before chemotherapy (T1) and at discharge from hospital (T2). Four patients died due to septic shock, two withdrew consent before the start of EMS training and five stopped EMS training during the study because of chemotherapy-related complications, loss of motivation or loss of ability to use EMS autonomously. Thirty-four out of 45 (76%) patients used EMS throughout the study period and participated in physical and psychological tests at time points 1 and 2. EMS-related adverse events were hematoma (n = 1) and muscle pain (n = 2). No bleeding events > 1 according to the WHO bleeding scale occurred. Decline in 6MWD from T1 to T2 was 24 m. The SPPB score stayed the same with 11 points at T1 and T2. Most MFI subscales showed stable fatigue levels and quality of life (QoL) did not decrease significantly throughout therapy. EMS is feasible and safe in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy. Trial registration: NCT03467087.


Electric muscle stimulation,Stem cell transplantation,Supportive care,