Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Upper Limb Rehabilitation

  • Jesse DawsonEmail author
  • Frances McGrane
Stroke Rehabilitation (G.E. Francisco, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Stroke Rehabilitation


Purpose of Review

This article will review the evidence for the use of vagus nerve stimulation to drive the growth of new neural pathways during upper limb rehabilitation and improve functional recovery after stroke.

Recent Findings

Approximately 85 % of patients with stroke present with arm weakness and 60 % of stroke survivors with poorly functioning arms at 1 week do not recover meaningful function by 6 months. The mainstay of current treatment is intensive, task-specific and repetitive rehabilitation therapy or occasionally methods such as constraint-induced movement therapy and robotic therapy. The effects of these treatments are modest, and recent studies have suggested that augmentation of neuroplasticity is required to more fully recover motor function.


Novel treatments are needed to improve recovery of upper limb function after stroke. We will review the evidence for the use of vagal nerve stimulation paired with rehabilitation drive neuroplasticity specific to upper limb function.


Vagus nerve Stroke Rehabilitation Epilepsy Tinnitus 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Jesse Dawson reports conference travel reimbursement from Microtransponder Inc. Frances McGrane declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

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


Recently published papers of particular interest have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life SciencesQueen Elizabeth University HospitalGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Queen Elizabeth University HospitalGlasgowUK

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