Recovery of motor disability and spasticity in post-stroke after repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)

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Lately it has been indicated that the stimulation of both sides of the motor cortices with different frequencies of rTMS can improve the behaviour of a paretic arm. We studied the effect of rTMS in severe cases of post-stroke after nearly 10 years. They had wide hemispheric lesion and their paresis had not changed for more than 5 years. The majority of patients could not move their fingers on the affected side. In our study we examined whether the active movement could be induced by rTMS even several years after stroke and which hemisphere (affected or unaffected) stimulated by rTMS would be the best location for attenuating the spasticity and for developing movement in the paretic arm. Sixty-four patients (more than 5 years after stroke in a stable state) were followed for 3 months. They were treated with rTMS with 1 Hz at 30% of 2.3 T 100 stimuli per session twice a day for a week. The area to be stimulated was chosen according to the evoked movement by TMS in the paretic arm. That way, four groups were created and compared. In group A, where both hemispheres were stimulated (because of the single stimulation of TMS could induce movement from both sides of hemispheres) the spasticity decreased but the movement could not be influenced. A highly significant improvement in spasticity, in movement induction and in the behaviour of paresis was observed in group B, where before treatment, there was no evoked movement in the paretic arm from stimulating either hemispheres of the brain. For treatment we stimulated the unaffected hemisphere from where the intact arm is moved (ipsilateral to the paretic side). In both groups C (contralateral hemisphere to the paretic arm) and D (ipsilaterally evoked movement in the paretic arm), the spasticity decreased during the first week, but the movement of the paretic arm improved only in group C.It seems that spasticity can be modified by the stimulation either the affected or the unaffected hemisphere, but the induction of movement can be achieved only by the stimulation of an intact motor pathway and its surrounding area (groups B and C). The improvement in paretic extremities can be achieved with rTMS even after years of stroke when the traditional rehabilitation has failed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-395
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2008


  • Post-stroke
  • Rehabilitation
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)
  • Spasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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