Brain stimulation after stroke improves motor skills

A non-invasive, portable magnetic brain stimulation after a stroke could improve the motor function in patients thanks to the new device. This is based on preliminary scientific evidence presented by scientists at the 2020 American Stroke Association International Conference.

New method for brain stimulation after stroke

helmet with sensors improves brain function after a stroke

In a first randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled clinical trial involving 30 survivors of chronic ischemic stroke, a new portable, multifocal, transcranial, rotating permanent magnet stimulator (TRPMS) resulted in significant increases in brain physiological activity in areas near the injured brain, as measured by functional MRI.

“The robustness of the increase in physiological brain activity was surprising. We observed a statistically significant change in brain activity in only 30 subjects, ”said lead study author David Chiu. He is the director of the Eddy Scurlock Stroke Center at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas. “If we could confirm this in a larger multicenter study, the results would have a huge impact. So this technology would be the first proven treatment to restore motor function after a chronic ischemic stroke. ”

Researchers have previously studied magnetic brain stimulation to help restore motor function after a stroke. This type of post-stroke brain stimulation can alter neuronal activity and induce brain reorganization. In this regard, the researchers presented a new portable nerve stimulator.

Medical perspectives

brain stimulation after stroke permanent magnet nerve stimulator

Stroke survivors who had weakness on one side of the body at least three months later were included in a preliminary study to assess the safety and effectiveness of the device. The researchers treated half of the patients with brain stimulation, which they administered in twenty-four-week sessions over four weeks. The rest had fake treatment. The researchers analyzed physiological brain activity immediately after and one month after treatment.

woman doing gymnastics with band in fitness room

They found that the treatment was well tolerated and there were no device-related complications. Active treatment led to a significantly greater increase in brain activity: almost nine times higher than sham treatment.

Although the study could not demonstrate that the transcranial stimulator improved motor function, numerical improvements were demonstrated in five of six clinical motor function scales as measured by a functional MRI test. The scale measured gait speed, grip strength, clamping force and other motor functions of the arm. The treatment effects persisted over a period of three months.

Brain and motor function improve thanks to new technologies

The researchers believe the study results are a signal of a possible improvement in clinical motor skills after magnetic brain stimulation in stroke patients, which needs to be confirmed in a larger multicentre study.

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