This is a preliminary study to evaluate the possible use of transcranial magnetic
stimulation (TMS), together with exercise, for rehabilitation of chronic stroke patients. It
will identify the optimum stimulation settings (within the limits of current safety
guidelines) to be used in a later rehabilitation study and confirm the safety of the
procedure at these settings. Some previous studies using TMS to treat movement disorders
such as Parkinson's disease have shown improvement in motor function; others have not. The
results of this study may provide information to help researchers design better
rehabilitation treatments after stroke.
Stroke patients with residual arm function and no history of seizures may be eligible for
this study. The stroke must have occurred at least 6 months before entry into the study and
must have affected only one side of the brain.
For the TMS procedure, subjects are seated in a comfortable chair with their hands placed on
a pillow on their lap. An insulated wire coil is placed on the scalp. A brief electrical
current is passed through the coil, creating a magnetic pulse that stimulates the outer part
of the brain, called the cortex. This may cause muscle, hand or arm twitching if the coil is
near the part of the brain that controls movement, or it may affect movements or reflexes.
Subjects are asked to make movements, do simple tasks, or tense muscles. Metal electrodes
are taped to the skin over the muscle for computer recording of the electrical activity of
the hand and arm muscles activated by the stimulation. The testing lasts 2-3 hours.
Stroke survivors are often left with permanent physical and mental disabilities that create
a major social and economic burden. Many of these patients receive different therapies in an
attempt to improve their independence and quality of life. However, most of the current
strategies are focused on the acute stage after stroke and are of limited influence in
improving stroke outcome. One of the main problems of patients who have suffered a stroke is
the difficulty in appropriately using the hand contralateral to the lesioned hemisphere; to
date we have no successful means to improve the hand function in chronic stages of stroke.
This protocol attempts to address this problem.
A promising technique is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) that, so far,
has produced some effects on motor function on other movement disorders like Parkinson's
disease (PD). We hypothesize that rTMS will have a beneficial effect on motor function in
chronic stroke patients. Specifically, we propose to look at the effect of 20 and 25 Hz
stimulation since these types of stimulation have been shown to increase the excitability of
the cerebral cortex.
The purpose of this protocol is to investigate the effect of repetitive transcranial
stimulation (rTMS) on the motor cortex of chronic stroke patients and motor function. Four
different stimulation parameters within the limits of current safety guidelines will be
used. We plan to determine; 1) which rTMS stimulation parameters induce more cortex
excitability, 2) whether there is any improvement of hand motor function after rTMS, and 3)
if the applied stimulation parameters are safe in chronic stroke patients. The optimal
parameters will be subsequently proposed for use in an experimental protocol for
- INCLUSION CRITERIA:
Fifteen adult and impaired patients (right or left) with residual arm function who have
had a single monohemispheric ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke (documented by CT or MRI) at
least 6 months before, without severe proprioceptive deficits, independent of previous
physical therapy will be included.
They should be able to perform the pinch task.
Their gender or ethnic origin will not provide bias for inclusion to the study.
All subjects will sign an informed consent prior to participation in the trial.
Exclusion criteria for the trial will include any current actively treated medical or
surgical condition or neurological or psychiatric illness other than stroke.
Any individual who is on medication which is known to lower seizure threshold, or who has
a pacemaker, an implanted medical pump, a metal plate, a metal plate or metal object in
the skull or eye (for example after brain surgery) will be excluded.
Additional exclusion include patients with:
History of more than one stroke;
Large cortical, cerebellar, or brainstem lesions;
An inability to extend metacarpophalangeal (MP) joints at least 10-20 degrees;
Substantially recovered motor function;
Poor motivational capacity, or severe language disturbances (particularly of receptive
Bilateral motor problems;
Serious cognitive deficits (defined as equivalent to a mini-mental state exam score of 20
Uncontrolled medical problems, such as: cardiopulmonary disease, severe rheumatoid
arthritis, active joint deformity of arthritic origin, active cancer, or renal disease;
Uncontrollable issues due to natural aging;
History of seizure(s).
All patients will underfo electroencephalogram (EEG) examination prior to rTMS experiment
as a part of the screening procedure.
Patients without any history of seizures, but with any sign of increased cerebral activity
in the EEG will be excluded.
Women who are pregnant may not participate and women who are of childbearing years must be
post-menopausal, sterile, or practicing adequate birth control.
Children will be excluded.