Purpose: To demonstrate, in a proof-of-concept study, whether potentiating ipsilesional higher motor areas (premotor cortex and supplementary motor area) augments and accelerates recovery associated with constraint induced movement.
Methods: In a randomized, double-blinded pilot clinical study, 12 patients with chronic stroke were assigned to receive anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) (n = 6) or sham (n = 6) to the ipsilesional higher motor areas during constraint-induced movement therapy. We assessed functional and neurophysiologic outcomes before and after 5 weeks of therapy.
Results: Only patients receiving tDCS demonstrated gains in function and dexterity. Gains were accompanied by an increase in excitability of the contralesional rather than the ipsilesional hemisphere.
Conclusions: Our proof-of-concept study provides early evidence that stimulating higher motor areas can help recruit the contralesional hemisphere in an adaptive role in cases of greater ipsilesional injury. Whether this early evidence of promise translates to remarkable gains in functional recovery compared to existing approaches of stimulation remains to be confirmed in large-scale clinical studies that can reasonably dissociate stimulation of higher motor areas from that of the traditional primary motor cortices.
Source: Stimulation targeting higher motor areas in stroke rehabilitation: A proof-of-concept, randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled study of effectiveness and underlying mechanisms – IOS Press