A new analysis of past studies found that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) might be useful in aiding stroke survivors. The brain stimulation may help them regain the ability to walk and move independently.
rTMS is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique that sends electromagnetic pulses through coils places close to the scalp. The coils are used to target specific areas of the brain. TMS has already been proven to be an effective method for treating treatment-resistant depression as well as other mental disorders.
Researchers have been delving into how this technique could potentially be used to improve the lives of stroke victims. A team at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus has successfully used rTMS to improve arm movements in stroke survivors. More studies are examining the therapeutic effect this treatment can have.
A team of researchers from Sichuan University in the People’s Republic of China, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital has been reviewing these studies. They want to determine whether this treatment could improve motor skills in stroke survivors such as walking speed, balance, and other key rehabilitation factors.
They found that rTMS significantly improves walking speed. The most improvement happened in patients who received stimulation on the same side of the brain that the stroke occurred in. Those who received stimulation on the opposite side saw no improvement.
This is a huge win for people who have had strokes and are looking to regain their independence. Further studies will need to be done, but it appears rTMS is a valid treatment option for them to explore.
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