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Combined transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and robotic upper limb therapy improves upper limb function in an adult with cerebral palsy.

PUBLICATION: 
Journal Article
Authors: 
Friel KM, Lee P, Soles LV, Smorenburg ARP, Kuo HC, Edwards DJ.
Year Published: 
2017
Publisher: 
NeuroRehabilitation. 2017 May 10. doi: 10.3233/NRE-171455. [Epub ahead of print]
Identifiers: 
PMID: 28505986
Abstract on PubMed

Abstract

Background

Robotic therapy can improve upper limb function in hemiparesis. Excitatory transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can prime brain motor circuits before therapy.

Objective 

We tested safety and efficacy of tDCS plus robotic therapy in an adult with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy (USCP).

Methods

In each of 36 sessions, anodal tDCS (2 mA, 20 min) was applied over the motor map of the affected hand. Immediately after tDCS, the participant completed robotic therapy, using the shoulder, elbow, and wrist (MIT Manus). The participant sat in a padded chair with affected arm abducted, forearm supported, and hand grasping the robot handle. The participant controlled the robot arm with his affected arm to move a cursor from the center of a circle to each of eight targets (960 movements). Motor function was tested before, after, and six months after therapy with the Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) and Fugl-Meyer (FM).

Results

Reaching accuracy on the robot task improved significantly after therapy. The WMFT and FM improved clinically meaningful amounts after therapy. The motor map of the affected hand expanded after therapy. Improvements were maintained six months after therapy.

Conclusions

Combined tDCS and robotics safely improved upper limb function in an adult with USCP.