, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 474-481
Date: 05 Sep 2012

Noninvasive brain stimulation in stroke rehabilitation

Summary

Stroke is a common disorder that produces a major burden to society, largely through long-lasting motor disability in survivors. Recent studies have broadened our understanding of the processes underlying recovery of motor function after stroke. Bilateral motor regions of the brain experience substantial reorganization after stroke, including changes in the strength of interhemispheric inhibitory interactions. Our understanding of the extent to which different forms of reorganization contribute to behavioral gains in the rehabilitative process, although still limited, has led to the formulation of novel interventional strategies to regain motor function. Transcranial magnetic (TMS) and DC (tDCS) electrical stimulation are noninvasive brain stimulation techniques that modulate cortical excitability in both healthy individuals and stroke patients. These techniques can enhance the effect of training on performance of various motor tasks, including those that mimic activities of daily living. This review looks at the effects of TMS and tDCS on motor cortical function and motor performance in healthy volunteers and in patients with stroke. Both techniques can either enhance or suppress cortical excitability, and may move to the clinical arena as strategies to enhance the beneficial effects of customarily used neurorehabilitative treatments after stroke.