Journal Article

Effects of non-invasive cortical stimulation on skilled motor function in chronic stroke

Friedhelm Hummel, Pablo Celnik, Pascal Giraux, Agnes Floel, Wan-Hsun Wu, Christian Gerloff and Leonardo G. Cohen

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 128, issue 3, pages 490-499
Published in print March 2005 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI:
Effects of non-invasive cortical stimulation on skilled motor function in chronic stroke

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Stroke is a leading cause of adult motor disability. Despite recent progress, recovery of motor function after stroke is usually incomplete. This double blind, Sham-controlled, crossover study was designed to test the hypothesis that non-invasive stimulation of the motor cortex could improve motor function in the paretic hand of patients with chronic stroke. Hand function was measured using the Jebsen–Taylor Hand Function Test (JTT), a widely used, well validated test for functional motor assessment that reflects activities of daily living. JTT measured in the paretic hand improved significantly with non-invasive transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), but not with Sham, an effect that outlasted the stimulation period, was present in every single patient tested and that correlated with an increment in motor cortical excitability within the affected hemisphere, expressed as increased recruitment curves (RC) and reduced short-interval intracortical inhibition. These results document a beneficial effect of non-invasive cortical stimulation on a set of hand functions that mimic activities of daily living in the paretic hand of patients with chronic stroke, and suggest that this interventional strategy in combination with customary rehabilitative treatments may play an adjuvant role in neurorehabilitation.

Keywords: cortical stimulation; motor control; rehabilitation; stroke; CS = conditioning stimulus; ICF = intracortical facilitation; JTT = Jebsen–Taylor Hand Function Test; MT = motor thresholds; RC = recruitment curves to TMS; SICI = short-interval intracortical inhibition; tDCS = transcranial direct current stimulation; TMS = transcranial magnetic stimulation; TS = test stimulus

Journal Article.  6880 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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