Analysis of the Factors Related to the Effectiveness of Transcranial Current Stimulation in Upper Limb Motor Function Recovery after Stroke: a Systematic Review

  • María Antonia Fuentes CalderónEmail author
  • Ainhoa Navarro Miralles
  • Mauricio Jaramillo Pimienta
  • Jesús María Gonçalves Estella
  • María José Sánchez Ledesma
Patient Facing Systems
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Technological Innovations in Biomedical Training and Practice (TEEM 2018)


Transcranial direct current stimulation is one of the non-invasive techniques whose main mechanism of action is based on its modulation of cortical excitability. The objective of this study is to analyze the variables (i.e, demographics, clinicals, stimulation parameters) that could influence into the responses during rehabilitation of the upper extremity in patients with stroke. Our systematic review has been performed by searching full-text articles published from January 2008 to December 2018 in Embase, Medline, PubMed and Cochrane Library databases. Studies with adult patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke at any stage of evolution were included. We compared interventions with any type of transcranial direct current stimulation (anodal, cathodal or bihemispheric, also known as dual) regarding improvement of upper extremity motor function. We included 14 studies with 368 patients, of whom almost 89% have ischemic etiology and more than half are males. Most patients were considered subacute or chronic, while only two studies were selected with patients in the acute phase. Different methods of using transcranial direct current stimulation with several complementary therapies were identified, such as virtual reality, robot therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Constraint Induced Movement Therapy or Peripheral Nerve Stimulation. In conclusion, there is not significant evidence due to heterogeneity of clinical data and therapies. Clinical studies with greater number of participants and protocols standardized could outline this assessment in future studies.


Transcranial direct current stimulation Stroke Upper extremity Rehabilitation Systematic review 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Antonia Fuentes Calderón
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ainhoa Navarro Miralles
    • 2
  • Mauricio Jaramillo Pimienta
    • 3
  • Jesús María Gonçalves Estella
    • 3
  • María José Sánchez Ledesma
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Departament of SurgeryUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  2. 2.Official College of Physiotherapists, Departament of PhysiotherapyAlicanteSpain
  3. 3.Departament of NeurosurgeryUniversitary Hospital of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  4. 4.VisualMed Systems GroupUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain

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