BACKGROUND:Neurorehabilitation technologies such as robot therapy (RT) and transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) can promote upper limb (UL) motor recovery after stroke. OBJECTIVE:To explore the effect of anodal tDCS with uni-lateral and three-dimensional RT for the impaired UL in people with sub-acute and chronic stroke. METHODS:A pilot randomised controlled trial was conducted. Stroke participants had 18 one-hour sessions of RT (Armeo®Spring) over eight weeks during which they received 20 minutes of either real tDCS or sham tDCS during each session. The primary outcome measure was the Fugl-Meyer assessment (FMA) for UL impairments and secondary were: UL function, activities and stroke impact collected at baseline, post-intervention and three-month follow-up. RESULTS:22 participants (12 sub-acute and 10 chronic) completed the trial. No significant difference was found in FMA between the real and sham tDCS groups at post-intervention and follow-up (p = 0.123). A significant ‘time’ x ‘stage of stroke’ was found for FMA (p = 0.016). A higher percentage improvement was noted in UL function, activities and stroke impact in people with sub-acute compared to chronic stroke. CONCLUSIONS:Adding tDCS did not result in an additional effect on UL impairment in stroke. RT may be of more benefit in the sub-acute than chronic phase.
- transcranial direct current stimulation
- robot therapy
- upper limb
- motor recovery