From adults to pediatrics: A review noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to facilitate recovery from brain injury

Prog Brain Res. 2021:264:287-322. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2021.01.019. Epub 2021 Feb 23.


Stroke is a major problem worldwide that impacts over 100 million adults and children annually. Rehabilitation therapy is the current standard of care to restore functional impairments post-stroke, however its effects are limited and many patients suffer persisting functional impairments and life-long disability. Noninvasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS) has emerged as a potential rehabilitation treatment option in both adults and children with brain injury. In the last decade, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) and Transcutaneous Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) have been investigated to improve motor recovery in adults post-stroke. These promising adult findings using NIBS, however, have yet to be widely translated to the area of pediatrics. The limited studies exploring NIBS in children have demonstrated safety, feasibility, and utility of stimulation-augmented rehabilitation. This chapter will describe the mechanism of NIBS therapy (cortical excitability, neuroplasticity) that underlies its use in stroke and motor function and how TMS, tDCS, and taVNS are applied in adult stroke treatment paradigms. We will then discuss the current state of NIBS in early pediatric brain injury and will provide insight regarding practical considerations and future applications of NIBS in pediatrics to make this promising treatment option a viable therapy in children.

Keywords: Brain injury; Brain stimulation; Cerebral palsy; NIBS; Pediatrics; Stroke; TMS; VNS; tDCS; tVNS; taVNS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Brain Injuries*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics*
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation