Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation improves handwriting in Parkinson's disease

Parkinsons Dis. 2013:2013:751925. doi: 10.1155/2013/751925. Epub 2013 May 8.


Background. Parkinson disease (PD) is characterized by hypometric movements resulting from loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. PD leads to decreased activation of the supplementary motor area (SMA); the net result of these changes is a poverty of movement. The present study determined the impact of 5 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the SMA on a fine motor movement, handwriting (writing cursive "l"s), and on cortical excitability, in individuals with PD. Methods. In a cross-over design, ten individuals with PD were randomized to receive either 5 Hz or control stimulation over the SMA. Immediately following brain stimulation right handed writing was assessed. Results. 5 Hz stimulation increased vertical size of handwriting and diminished axial pressure. In addition, 5 Hz rTMS significantly decreased the threshold for excitability in the primary motor cortex. Conclusions. These data suggest that in the short term 5 Hz rTMS benefits functional fine motor task performance, perhaps by altering cortical excitability across a network of brain regions. Further, these data may provide the foundation for a larger investigation of the effects of noninvasive brain stimulation over the SMA in individuals with PD.