Objective. To determine the long-term effects of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (LF-rTMS) over the contralesional M1 preceding motor task practice on the interhemispheric asymmetry of the cortical excitability and the functional recovery in subacute stroke patients with mild to moderate arm paresis. Methods. Twenty-four subacute stroke patients were randomly allocated to either the experimental or control group. The experimental group underwent rTMS over the contralesional M1 (1 Hz), immediately followed by 30 minutes of motor task practice (10 sessions within 2 weeks). The controls received sham rTMS and the same task practice. Following the 2-week intervention period, the task practice was continued twice weekly for another 10 weeks in both groups. Outcomes were evaluated at baseline (T0), at the end of the 2-week stimulation period (T1), and at 12-week follow-up (T2). Results. The MEP (paretic hand) and interhemispheric asymmetry, Fugl-Meyer motor assessment, Action Research Arm Test, and box and block test scores improved more in the experimental group than controls at T1 (p<0.05). The beneficial effects were largely maintained at T2. Conclusion. LF-rTMS over the contralesional M1 preceding motor task practice was effective in enhancing the ipsilesional cortical excitability and upper limb function with reducing interhemispheric asymmetry in subacute stroke patients with mild to moderate arm paresis. Significance. Adding LF-rTMS prior to motor task practice may reduce interhemispheric asymmetry of cortical excitabilities and promote upper limb function recovery in subacute stroke with mild to moderate arm paresis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology