Single-Session Cerebellar Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Improves Postural Stability and Reduces Ataxia Symptoms in Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Cerebellum. 2024 May 2. doi: 10.1007/s12311-024-01696-9. Online ahead of print.


Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) results in balance and coordination impairment, and current treatments have limited efficacy. Recent evidence suggests that combining postural training with cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (ctDCS) can improve these symptoms. However, the combined effects of ctDCS and postural training on individuals with spinocerebellar ataxia remain underexplored. Ten volunteers with (SCA type 3) participated in a triple-blind, randomized, crossover study to receive a single session of ctDCS (2 mA for 20 min) and a sham ctDCS session separated by at least one week. The Biodex Balance System was used to assess balance at each session, measuring overall stability index, anteroposterior stability index, and medial-lateral stability index. As secondary outcomes, cerebellar ataxia symptoms were evaluated using the 8-item Scale for Assessment and Rating of Ataxia. The assessments were conducted before and after each session. The results indicated that ctDCS enhanced the overall stability index when compared to sham ctDCS (Z = -2.10, p = 0.03), although it did not significantly affect the anteroposterior or medial-lateral stability indices. Compared to the baseline, a single session of ctDCS reduced appendicular symptoms related to cerebellar ataxia, as evidenced by improvements in the nose-finger test (Z = -2.07, p = 0.04), fast alternating hand movements (Z = -2.15, p = 0.03), and heel-to-shin slide (Z = -1.91, p = 0.05). In conclusion, our study suggests that a single session of ctDCS, in combination with postural training, can enhance balance and alleviate ataxia symptoms in individuals with cerebellar ataxia. This study was approved by the local research ethics committee (No. 2.877.813) and registered on (NCT04039048 - ) on 2019-07-28.

Keywords: Balance; Cerebellar ataxia; Cerebellar stimulation; Machado Joseph Disease; Transcranial direct current stimulation.

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