New stroke therapy produced significant gains in motor function post-stroke

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New stroke therapy, using a combination of non-invasive navigated transcranial stimulation along with occupational therapy, has been found to produce significant gains in motor function post-stroke, with an average of 50% of stroke survivors recovering full use of their arm.

The study, presented by Richard L Harvey and his team, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, at the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, yielded results from the active group of improved function by 13+ points in Upper Extremity Fugl-Meyer (UEFM) score.

According to a press release, treatment consisted of 20 minutes of pre-functional occupational therapy, 17 minutes of navigated transcranial stimulation, followed by 60 minutes of upper limb task-oriented occupational therapy. Patients received treatment during three visits per week, for six weeks, as the standard of care in the US. They then returned for follow-up visits at one week, one month, and six months. The study found that Nexstim’s non-invasive Navigated Brain Stimulation system used as an adjunct to therapy promoted lasting improvements in patients’ motor function compared to the sham group.

Nexstim’s Navigated Brain Stimulation system uses stereotactic, MRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation to non-invasively modulate precise areas of the motor cortex. The system’s e-field-based targeting tool allows the therapist to accurately locate the patient’s exact stimulation location using technology similar to navigating the globe with a global positioning system (GPS). The navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to stimulate the patient’s non-injured hemisphere at low frequency. The navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation affects the excitability of the brain, down-regulating the healthy side of the brain. Adding navigation to transcranial magnetic stimulation is the key to finding the exact location and orientation of the e-field of the motor area that should be inhibited by stimulation. Nexstim’s targeted stimulation has been proven to correlate with Direct Cortical Stimulation in the operating room, the press release reports.

“What we found is that there are areas of the brain, usually where the lesion is, that are less active than they used to be, and that there are actually areas on the brain on the opposite hemisphere, the healthy side of the brain, that are more active than they used to be,” says Lynn Rogers, director, Neuralplasticity Laboratory, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.