Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for lower extremity motor function in patients with stroke: A systematic review and network meta-analysis

Yun Juan Xie, Yi Chen, Hui Xin Tan, Qi Fan Guo, Benson Lau, Qiang Gao (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Transcranial magnetic stimulation, a type of noninvasive brain stimulation, has become an ancillary therapy for motor function rehabilitation. Most previous studies have focused on the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on motor function in stroke patients. There have been relatively few studies on the effects of different modalities of rTMS on lower extremity motor function and corticospinal excitability in patients with stroke. The MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, ISI Science Citation Index, Physiotherapy Evidence Database, China National Knowledge Infrastructure Library, and databases were searched. Parallel or crossover randomized controlled trials that addressed the effectiveness of rTMS in patients with stroke, published from inception to November 28, 2019, were included. Standard pairwise meta-analysis was conducted using R version 3.6.1 with the 'meta' package. Bayesian network analysis using the Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of different rTMS protocol interventions. Network meta-analysis results of 18 randomized controlled trials regarding lower extremity motor function recovery revealed that low-frequency rTMS had better efficacy in promoting lower extremity motor function recovery than sham stimulation. Network meta-analysis results of five randomized controlled trials demonstrated that high-frequency rTMS led to higher amplitudes of motor evoked potentials than low-frequency rTMS or sham stimulation. These findings suggest that rTMS can improve motor function in patients with stroke, and that low-frequency rTMS mainly affects motor function, whereas high-frequency rTMS increases the amplitudes of motor evoked potentials. More high-quality randomized controlled trials are needed to validate this conclusion. The work was registered in PROSPERO (registration No. CRD42020147055) on April 28, 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1176
Number of pages9
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Issue number6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2020


  • cortical excitability
  • lower extremity
  • motor function
  • network meta-analysis
  • noninvasive brain stimulation
  • stroke
  • systematic review
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience


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