The effect of transcranial direct current stimulation on upper limb motor performance in Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review

Michael William Simpson, Margaret Mak (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background and purpose: Parkinson’s disease (PD) reduces independence and quality of life through deterioration of upper limb motor function. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may offer an alternative, adjunctive therapy for PD. However, the efficacy of tDCS for upper limb motor rehabilitation in PD is unknown. In this systematic review, evidence is compiled regarding the effects of tDCS on upper limb motor function in PD. Methods: Studies of tDCS applied to PD patients that assessed upper limb motor function, conducted between January 2000 and November 2018, were screened for inclusion via a systematic search of Medline, Cochrane, PsycINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Web of Science. Results: Ten out of 606 studies were included and their findings synthesized into five categories regarding the effects of tDCS on: (1) Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale motor section (UPDRS III), (2) upper limb motor tasks, (3) manual dexterity, (4) reaction time, and (5) neurophysiology. Conclusions: When applied to the primary motor cortex, tDCS may improve UPDRS III and the speed and force of movement. Considerable variation was found in tDCS parameters and further study is needed to clarify the long-term effects of tDCS on both simple and complex motor tasks and to compile relevant neurophysiological evidence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019


  • Motor function
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • tDCS
  • Upper limb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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