Objective: This meta-analysis aimed to examine the overall effectiveness of TMS on post-stroke aphasia using a meta-analysis approach, as well as examine the impact of moderating variables (e.g. study design, TMS protocol) on the effectiveness of TMS.
Data sources: A keyword search was conducted in 5 databases: ERIC, Google Scholar, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and ProQuest (01/1985-12/2022). The search algorithm included all possible combinations of relevant keywords. Full-text articles were thoroughly examined using forward/backward search methods.
Study selection: Studies were thoroughly screened using the following inclusion criteria: patients were diagnosed with post-stroke aphasia; studies focused on the effect of TMS on post-stroke aphasia; language assessments were conducted at pretest and posttest for TMS treatment and data were reported; studies included both an experimental group (i.e. a group with TMS treatment) and a control group (i.e. a group without TMS treatment).
Data extraction: Information was extracted from each study including authors, publication year, first language of participants, study design, stroke duration, demographics of participants, TMS protocol, stimulation site, targeting, and statistical data of language performance pre- and post-TMS treatment.
Data synthesis: A total of 17 studies were included in the final review, involving 682 patients with post-stroke aphasia (348 in the experimental group, 334 in the control group). The results showed that TMS treatment has significant immediate (Hedge's g = 0.37) and maintenance (Hedge's g = 0.34) effects on post-stroke aphasia. Additionally, the moderating variables showed a moderation effect on the effectiveness of TMS.
Conclusion: TMS treatment can significantly improve language ability for post-stroke aphasia. Additionally, this study provides an important reference for selecting the optimal TMS treatment parameters in treating post-stroke aphasia. Specifically, administering 15 sessions of rTMS lasting 10 min over the mirror area within Broca's area may produce the best TMS treatment outcomes.
Keywords: Transcranial magnetic stimulation; aphasia; language; stroke.
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