Cerebellar deep brain stimulation for chronic post-stroke motor rehabilitation: a phase I trial

Nat Med. 2023 Sep;29(9):2366-2374. doi: 10.1038/s41591-023-02507-0. Epub 2023 Aug 14.


Upper-extremity impairment after stroke remains a major therapeutic challenge and a target of neuromodulation treatment efforts. In this open-label, non-randomized phase I trial, we applied deep brain stimulation to the cerebellar dentate nucleus combined with renewed physical rehabilitation to promote functional reorganization of ipsilesional cortex in 12 individuals with persistent (1-3 years), moderate-to-severe upper-extremity impairment. No serious perioperative or stimulation-related adverse events were encountered, with participants demonstrating a seven-point median improvement on the Upper-Extremity Fugl-Meyer Assessment. All individuals who enrolled with partial preservation of distal motor function exceeded minimal clinically important difference regardless of time since stroke, with a median improvement of 15 Upper-Extremity Fugl-Meyer Assessment points. These robust functional gains were directly correlated with cortical reorganization evidenced by increased ipsilesional metabolism. Our findings support the safety and feasibility of deep brain stimulation to the cerebellar dentate nucleus as a promising tool for modulation of late-stage neuroplasticity for functional recovery and the need for larger clinical trials. ClinicalTrials.gov registration: NCT02835443 .

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellum
  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Stroke* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02835443