Magnetic brain stimulation may aid stroke survivors

rTMS can trigger neural activity via electrical currents

Analysis of existing studies shows that a technique called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) might be useful in helping stroke survivors regain the ability to walk independently.

A noninvasive brain stimulation technique, rTMS places magnetic coils along the affected individual’s scalp, and sends short, electromagnetic pulses to specific brain areas.

Although these pulses only cause an almost imperceptible “knocking or tapping” sensation for the patient undergoing the procedure, they reach into the brain, triggering electric currents that stimulate neurons.

To this point, rTMS has been used to treat mood disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, and anxiety with a fair degree of success. One recent study showed that about a third of people living with auditory verbal hallucinations showed improvement following the procedure. These hallucinations are a common marker of schizophrenia.

A team led by Dr. Chengqi He of Sichuan Univeristy of China is investigating rTMS, usefulness for patients following storke. Dr. He and colleagues wanted to see if the technique improved motor skills for people who had stroke; to do so, the researchers examined the impact rTMS has on walking speed, balance, and other key factors for post-stroke rehabilitation.

SOURCE: Medical News Today

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