study has found. The technique, called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), had positive effects lasting for at least two weeks, according to the report published in the journal Stroke. Transcranial magnetic stimulation has also been successfully used to treat other conditions, including depression.
According to the lead researcher of the study, Dr. Felipe Fregni, rTMS attempts to inhibit activity in the unaffected side of the brain. In that sense, the treatment operates on a similar principle as “constraint-induced therapy” – a successful rehabilitation method whereby a stroke sufferer’s healthy limb is physically restrained, which then forces the affected limb to improve its response and function.
Scientific researchers working in other places are currently studying the application of rTMS for treating other neurological conditions. Previous research regarding strokes led to the current trial, “We know that several sessions of rTMS can increase the magnitude and duration of the beneficial effects, so we assessed the effect of five sessions,” Fregni said.
The research study was composed of 15 participants who were all people who had suffered from a stroke at least a year prior. Ten of the study participants received rTMS treatments in order to reduce activity in the motor cortex area of the undamaged side of their brain. The other five patients underwent a sham, or placebo, treatment.
After performing tests to measure the reaction-times of the patients’ hands which were affected by the stroke, the researchers found that those who had received the rTMS treatments had increased their reaction speed by up to 30 percent after only five days of receiving treatments. This effect lasted for a period of two weeks. The improvements increased earlier, as the number of treatments were increased. The patients were, on average, 10 percent, 20 percent, 27 percent and 30 percent faster on days two, three, four and five of treatment, respectively.