Ipsilesional anodal tDCS enhances the functional benefits of rehabilitation in patients after stroke as originally seen in Science Translational Medicine
The very first question on my NCS exam this last month was on protocol for transcranial e-stim. At the end of the test they have a little survey and I railed at them over that question, because transcranial e-stim is not currently an approved treatment by the US FDA. It isn’t approve yet because, very little research has been done it. And yet they expect me to know it’s protocol? Yeah no. Ok, end rant.
This small study does make it sound promising though. They took 24 people >6 months post first stroke which did not effect the primary motor cortex and put some electrodes on the their heads while they underwent traditional arm therapies for 9 days. The people were randomly selected if they actual got e-stim through the electrodes or not– 11 did, 13 didn’t.
The people that got the e-stim in addition to therapy showed greater improvements on 2/3 physical function evaluations, increased activity on fMRI in the motor and premotor cortices related to the arm and increased gray matter volume in those same areas on structural MRI. And those changes stuck around up to 3 months later at the final follow-up.
That sounds great to me! Not only are we seeing physiological changes on imaging, but clinical function gains. That’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Because we can make changes physiologically all we went want, but if that doesn’t translate into increased function for our patients, who’s going to care? Who’s going to pay for that treatment? Answer: no one.
I hope there are some more trials in the works, because if we keep getting results like these, I want this treatment as an option in my clinic!