Stroke patients who were left partially paralyzed found that their condition improved after they received a simple and non-invasive method of brain stimulation, according to research in the September issue of the European Journal of Neurology.
Researchers from the Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, studied 60 patients with ischaemic stroke – where the blood supply is reduced to the brain – who had been left with mild to moderate muscle weakness down one side of their body.
Twenty of the randomly assigned treatment group received repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) applied at 5-Hz over the brain hemisphere affected by the stroke and the other 20 received 1-Hz stimulation of the unaffected hemisphere. The remaining 20 formed the control group, receiving inactive placebo doses of the treatment. All patients received the same physical therapy.
“When we compared the results between the three groups, we found that both of the treatment groups showed significant motor function recovery” says co-author Anwar El Etribi, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University. “No improvements were seen in the control group who had received the placebo treatment and the same physical therapy protocol.”
The majority of the patients (95 per cent) had suffered their stroke in the last three years, having been enrolled in the study at least one month after their stroke. However, there was no difference between the level of clinical improvement and the interval since the patients’ strokes.
“We believe that people develop partial paralysis down one side after they have a stroke because the hemispheres of the brain become unbalanced” explains Professor Etribi. “The hemisphere that has not been affected can become over-active, while the damaged hemisphere can become inhibited.
“Our treatment worked on the theory that increasing the activity of the hemisphere affected by the stroke and reducing the activity of the unaffected hemisphere can reduce muscle weakness and improve overall motor function.”
source : brain mysteries