Short-Term Effects of Cerebellar tDCS on Standing Balance Performance in Patients with Chronic Stroke and Healthy Age-Matched Elderly

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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may serve as an adjunct approach in stroke rehabilitation. The cerebellum could be a target during standing balance training due to its role in motor adaptation. We tested whether cerebellar tDCS can lead to short-term effects on standing balance performance in patients with chronic stroke. Fifteen patients with a chronic stroke were stimulated with anodal stimulation on the contra-lesional cerebellar hemisphere, ipsi-lesional cerebellar hemisphere, or sham stimulation, for 20 min with 1.5 mA in three sessions in randomized order. Ten healthy controls participated in two sessions with cerebellar stimulation ipsi-lateral to their dominant leg or sham stimulation. During stimulation, subjects performed a medio-lateral postural tracking task on a force platform. Standing balance performance was measured directly before and after each training session in several standing positions. Outcomes were center of pressure (CoP) amplitude and its standard deviation, and velocity and its standard deviation and range, subsequently combined into a CoP composite score (comp-score) as a qualitative outcome parameter. In the patient group, a decrease in comp-score in the tandem position was found after contra-lesional tDCS: β = - 0.25, CI = - 0.48 to - 0.03, p = 0.03. No significant differences in demographics and clinical characteristics were found between patients who responded (N = 10) and patients who did not respond (N = 5) to the stimulation. Contra-lesional cerebellar tDCS shows promise for improving standing balance performance. Exploration of optimal timing, dose, and the relation between qualitative parameters and clinical improvements are needed to establish whether tDCS can augment standing balance performance after stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-589
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Early online date24 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

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