Purpose: Recent evidence has suggested that a simple technique of noninvasive brain stimulation - transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) - is associated with a significant motor function improvement in stroke patients.
Methods: We tested the motor performance improvement in stroke patients following 4 weekly sessions of sham, anodal- and cathodal tDCS (experiment 1) and the effects of 5 consecutive daily sessions of cathodal tDCS (experiment 2). A blinded rater evaluated motor function using the Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test.
Results: There was a significant main effect of stimulation condition (p=0.009) in experiment 1. Furthermore there was a significant motor function improvement after either cathodal tDCS of the unaffected hemisphere (p=0.016) or anodal tDCS of the affected hemisphere (p=0.046) when compared to sham tDCS. There was no cumulative effect associated with weekly sessions of tDCS, however consecutive daily sessions of tDCS (experiment 2) were associated with a significant effect on time (p< 0.0001) that lasted for 2 weeks after treatment.
Conclusions: The findings of our study support previous research showing that tDCS is significantly associated with motor function improvement in stroke patients; and support that consecutive daily sessions of tDCS might increase its behavioral effects. Because the technique of tDCS is simple, safe and non-expensive; our findings support further research on the use of this technique for the rehabilitation of patients with stroke.