Brain Stimulation Aids Post-Stroke Rehabilitation

Repeated noninvasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) helped treat post-stroke pain, spasticity, and motor symptoms in a small group of stroke patients, according to researchers who presented the findings at the XXI World Congress of Neurology 2013 in Vienna.

Repeated noninvasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) helped treat post-stroke pain, spasticity, and motor symptoms in a small group of stroke patients, according to researchers who presented the findings at the XXI World Congress of Neurology 2013 in Vienna.

Alexander Chervyakov, PhD, and colleagues from the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow conducted a randomized, blinded, sham-controlled study of 22 patients who suffered an ischemic stroke between eight days and three years from baseline. Participants were randomized to receive sham treatment, low-frequency stimulation, high-frequency stimulation, or a combination of both treatments. Several different instruments assessed motor recovery, spasticity, handicap, pain, and activities of daily living among the patients.

The researchers found that all stroke patients who received non-sham treatment showed signs of motor recovery, while those who received both low-frequency stimulation to the unaffected hemisphere and high-frequency stimulation to the affected hemisphere showed significant recovery in spasticity. The patients who only received treatment in low frequency or both frequencies showed improvements in activities of daily living.

In terms of side effects, 24 percent of patients reported headaches, 15 percent reported epileptiform discharge, and 9 percent reported seizures.

The researchers said future studies are needed to explore nTMS treatment in stroke patients with low potential for rehabilitation.