The phenomenon of population ageing is accompanied by increases in the number of elderly haemodialysis patients worldwide. The incidence of frailty is high in the haemodialysis population and is associated with poor clinical outcome. Although several interventions have been developed for use in general haemodialysis patients, the efficacy of such rehabilitation programmes in frail elderly patients on haemodialysis has not been elucidated. Here, we examined whether electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) would show beneficial effects in frail elderly patients on haemodialysis.

Methods and analysis

This is a randomised, two-period, controlled crossover trial, which will enrol 20 patients. Haemodialysis patients aged ≥65 years and defined as frail (ie, Short Physical Performance Battery score 4–9), will be randomly assigned to either group 1 (EMS intervention beginning in treatment period I, followed by reallocation as controls in treatment period II after a 5-week washout period) or group 2 (opposite schedule) in a 1:1 ratio. The two intervention periods will last 5 weeks each with an intervening washout period of 5 weeks. In the EMS intervention group, the treatment will be applied to the skeletal muscle of the entire lower extremity for 5 weeks, three times/week for 30–40 min during haemodialysis. The primary outcome of this study is the change in quadriceps isometric strength after the interventions. The secondary outcomes are the changes in physical function, physical activity, difficulty in activities of daily living, body composition, cognitive function, depressive symptoms, quality of life, blood test results and the clinical safety and feasibility of EMS therapy.

Ethics and dissemination

This study has been approved by the institutional review board/ethics committee of Kitasato University Allied Health Sciences. This study will be reported in peer reviewed publications and at conference presentations.

Trial registration number


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