The test-retest reliability of non-navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) measures of corticospinal pathway excitability early after stroke

Kathryn C. Collins, Allan B. Clark, Valerie M. Pomeroy, Niamh C. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Motor evoked potential (MEP) characteristics are potential biomarkers of whether rehabilitation interventions drive motor recovery after stroke. The test-retest reliability of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) measurements in sub-acute stroke remains unclear. This study aims to determine the test-retest reliability of upper limb MEP measures elicited by non-neuronavigated transcranial magnetic stimulation in sub-acute-stroke. Methods: In two identical data collection sessions, 1–3 days apart, TMS measures assessed: motor threshold (MT), amplitude, latency (MEP-L), silent period (SP), recruitment curve slope in the biceps brachii (BB), extensor carpi radialis (ECR), and abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscles of paretic and non-paretic upper limbs. Test-retest reliability was calculated using the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Acceptable reliability was set at a lower 95% CI of 0.70 or above. The limits of agreement (LOA) and smallest detectable change (SDC) were calculated. Results: 30 participants with sub-acute stroke were included (av 36 days post stroke) reliability was variable between poor to good for the different MEP characteristics. The SDC values differed across muscles and MEP characteristics in both paretic and less paretic limbs. Conclusions: The present findings indicate there is limited evidence for acceptable test-retest reliability of non-navigated TMS outcomes when using the appropriate 95% CI for ICC, SDC and LOA values. Clinical Trial Registration: Current Controlled Trials: ISCRT 19090862,

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Early online date18 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Apr 2024


  • Test-retest reliability
  • smallest detectable change
  • stroke
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • upper limb

Cite this