Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation with virtual reality on upper limb function in patients with ischemic stroke: a randomized controlled trial.
BACKGROUND: Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques have been shown in several studies to improve the motor recovery of the affected upper-limbs in stroke patients. This study aims to investigate whether or not cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (c-tDCS), combined with virtual reality (VR), is superior to VR alone in reducing motor impairment and improving upper limb function and quality of life in stroke patients. METHODS: Forty patients who suffered ischemic stroke between 2 weeks to 12 months were recruited for this single-blind randomized control trial. The patients were randomly assigned either to an experimental group who receiving c-tDCS and VR, or a control group receiving sham stimulation and VR. The cathodal electrode was positioned over the primary motor cortex (M1) of the unaffected hemisphere. The treatment session consisted of 20 min of daily therapy, for 10 sessions over a 2-week period. The outcome measures were the Fugl-Meyer Upper Extremity (FM-UE), the Action Research Arm Test (ARAT) and the Barthel Index (BI). RESULTS: The two groups were comparable in demographic characteristic and motor impairment. After 2 weeks of intervention, both groups demonstrated significant improvement in FM-UE, ARAT and BI scores (P<0.05).The experiment group demonstrated more improvement in FM-UE than the control group (10.1 vs. 6.4, p = 0.003) and, ARAT (7.0 vs 3.6, p = 0.026) and BI (12.8 vs 8.5, p = 0.043). CONCLUSIONS: The findings from our study support that c-tDCS, along with VR, can facilitate a stronger beneficial effect on upper limb motor impairment, function and quality of life than VR alone in patients with ischemic stroke. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study was registered in the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (ChiCTR1800019386) in November 8, 2018-Retrospectively registered.
Yao, X; Cui, L; Wang, J; Feng, W; Bao, Y; Xie, Q
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