, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 826-834
Date: 01 Jun 2013

Motor Cortex Excitability in Acute Cerebellar Infarct

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Limited evidence to date has demonstrated changes in excitability that develops over the contralateral motor cortex after a cerebellar infarct. As such, the present study investigated changes in excitability over the contra- (contraM1) and ipsilateral motor cortices (ipsiM1), in patients with acute cerebellar infarct, to determine whether the changes may have functional relevance. Paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation, combined with detailed clinical assessment, was undertaken in ten patients presenting with acute unilateral cerebellar infarct. Studies were undertaken within 1 week of ictus and followed longitudinally at 3-, 6-, and 12-month periods. Comparisons were made with 15 age-matched controls. Immediately following a stroke, short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) was significantly reduced over the contraM1 in all patients (P = 0.01), while reduced over the ipsiM1 in those with severe functional impairment (P = 0.01). Moreover, ipsiM1 SICI correlated with impairment (r = 0.69, P = 0.03), such that less SICI was observed in those patients with most impairment. Cortical excitability changes persisted over the follow-up period in the context of clinical improvement. Following an acute cerebellar infarct, excitability abnormalities develop over both motor cortices, more prominently in patients with severe functional impairment. The cortical changes, particularly over the ipsilateral motor cortex, may represent a functionally relevant plastic process that may guide future therapeutic strategies to better facilitate recovery.