Effects of Bihemispheric Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Upper Extremity Function in Stroke Patients: A randomized Double-Blind Sham-Controlled Study
Alisar, Dilek Cetinkaya
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Background and Purpose: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a treatment used in the rehabilitation of stroke patients aiming to improve functionality of the plegic upper extremity. Currently, tDCS is not routinely used in post stroke rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to establish the effects of bihemspheric tDCS combined with physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) on upper extremity motor function. Methods: Thirty-two stroke inpatients were randomised into 2 groups. All patients received 15 sessions of conventional upper extremity PT and OT over 3 weeks. The tDCS group (n = 16) also received 30 minutes of bihemispheric tDCS and the sham group (n = 16) 30 minutes of sham bihemispheric tDCS simultaneously to OT. Patients were evaluated before and after treatment using the Fug1 Meyer upper extremity (FMUE), functional independence measure (FIM), and Brunnstrom stages of stroke recovery (BSSR) by a physiatrist blind to the treatment group Results: The improvement in FIM was higher in the tDCS group compared to the sham group (P = .001). There was a significant within group improvement in FMUE, FIM and BSSR in those receiving tDCS (P = .001). There was a significant improvement in FIM in the chronic (> 6months) stroke sufferers who received tDCS when compared to those who received sham tDCS and when compared to subacute stroke (3-6 months) sufferers who received tDCS/sham. Conclusions: Upper extremity motor function in hemiplegic stroke patients improves when bihemispheric tDCS is used alongside conventional PT and OT. The improvement in functionality is greater in chronic stroke patients.