Effects of anodal cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation on movements in patients with cerebellar ataxias: A systematic review

Shu Mei Wang (Corresponding Author), Ying Wa Chan, Yiu On Tsui, Fong Yung Chu

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (cerebellar tDCS) is a promising therapy for cerebellar ataxias and has attracted increasing attention from researchers and clinicians. A timely systematic review focusing on randomized sham-controlled trials and repeated measures studies is warranted. This study was to systematically review existing evidence regarding effects of anodal cerebellar tDCS on movements in patients with cerebellar ataxias. The searched databases included Web of Science, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and EBSCOhost. Methodological quality of the selected studies was assessed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale. Five studies with 86 patients were identified. Among these, four studies showed positive effects of anodal cerebellar tDCS. Specifically, anodal cerebellar tDCS decreased disease severity and improved finger dexterity and quality of life in patients, but showed incongruent effects on gait control and balance, which may be due to heterogeneity of research participants and choices of measures. The protocols of anodal cerebellar tDCS that improved movements in patients commonly placed the anode over the whole cerebellum and provided ten 2-mA 20-min stimulation sessions. The results may show preliminary evidence that anodal cerebellar tDCS is beneficial to reducing disease severity and improving finger dexterity and quality of life in patients, which lays the groundwork for future studies further examining responses in the cerebello-thalamo-cortical pathway. An increase in sample size, the use of homogeneous patient groups, exploration of the optimal stimulation protocol, and investigation of detailed neural mechanisms are clearly needed in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10690
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021


  • Ataxia
  • Cerebellum
  • Movement
  • Systematic review
  • TDCS
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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