Rehabilitation of movement after stroke requires re-learning of normal movement patterns that have been lost due to brain injury. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a safe, non-invasive technique which holds potential for improving this re-learning of movement.
tDCS involves placing electrodes on the scalp and passing a very small electrical current through the brain. The effect on the brain is dependent on the position of the electrodes on the scalp and direction of electric current used.
In this study, the researchers are searching for the conditions of tDCS which offer the optimum improvement in re-learning of movement. They will train stroke survivors to perform simple movement-learning tasks on a computer, using their weaker arm.
During the tasks, half the participants will receive tDCS, whilst the other half will receive a dummy-stimulation. The researchers will take readings of how fast the participants learn, how much use they have of their weaker arm, and how well both sides of their brains are communicating.
This study is hoped to inform the design of a randomised, controlled clinical trial, which would investigate the combined use of tDCS and physiotherapy to improve arm and hand function after stroke.
1 March 2014