The primary aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on limb movement recovery post-stroke and cortex excitability, to explore the optimal parameters of rTMS and suitable stroke population. Second, adverse events were also included.
The databases of PubMed, EBSCO, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EBM Reviews-Cochrane Database, the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, and the Chinese Science and Technology Journals Database were searched for randomized controlled trials exploring the effects of rTMS on limb motor function recovery post-stroke before December 2018.
The effect sizes of rTMS on limb motor recovery, the effect size of rTMS stimulation parameters, and different stroke population were summarized by calculating the standardized mean difference (SMD) and the 95% confidence interval using fixed/random effect models as appropriate.
For the motor function assessment, 42 eligible studies involving 1168 stroke patients were identified. The summary effect size indicated that rTMS had positive effects on limb motor recovery (SMD = 0.50, P < 0.00001) and activities of daily living (SMD = 0.82, P < 0.00001), and motor-evoked potentials of the stimulated hemisphere differed according to the stimulation frequency, that is, the high-frequency group (SMD = 0.57, P = 0.0006), except the low-frequency group (SMD = –0.27, P = 0.05). No significant differences were observed among the stimulation parameter subgroups except for the sessions subgroup (P = 0.02). Only 10 included articles reported transient mild discomfort after rTMS.