Multiple sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation and upper extremity rehabilitation in stroke: A review and meta-analysis

L. Tedesco Triccas, J. H. Burridge, A. M. Hughes, R. M. Pickering, M. Desikan, J. C. Rothwell, G. Verheyden

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Objective: To systematically review the methodology in particular treatment options and outcomes and the effect of multiple sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with rehabilitation programmes for upper extremity recovery post stroke.
Methods: A search was conducted for randomised controlled trials involving tDCS and rehabilitation for the upper extremity in stroke. Quality of included studies was analysed using the Modified Downs and Black form. The extent of, and effect of variation in treatment parameters such as anodal, cathodal and bi-hemispheric tDCS on upper extremity outcome measures of impairment and activity were analysed using meta-analysis.
Results: Nine studies (371 participants with acute, sub-acute and chronic stroke) were included. Different methodologies of tDCS and upper extremity intervention, outcome measures and timing of assessments
were identified. Real tDCS combined with rehabilitation had a small non-significant effect of +0.11 (p = 0.44) and +0.24 (p = 0.11) on upper extremity impairments and activities at post-intervention respectively.
Conclusion: Various tDCS methods have been used in stroke rehabilitation. The evidence so far is not statistically significant, but is suggestive of, at best, a small beneficial effect on upper extremity impairment.
Significance: Future research should focus on which patients and rehabilitation programmes are likely to respond to different tDCS regimes.
2015 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946–955
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Early online date4 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • Transcranial direct current stimulation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Upper extremity
  • Recovery
  • Non-invasive brain stimulation

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