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author:("luschka, Udo")
1.  Predicting behavioural response to TDCS in chronic motor stroke☆ 
Neuroimage  2014;85(Pt 3):924-933.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) of primary motor cortex (M1) can transiently improve paretic hand function in chronic stroke. However, responses are variable so there is incentive to try to improve efficacy and or to predict response in individual patients. Both excitatory (Anodal) stimulation of ipsilesional M1 and inhibitory (Cathodal) stimulation of contralesional M1 can speed simple reaction time. Here we tested whether combining these two effects simultaneously, by using a bilateral M1–M1 electrode montage, would improve efficacy. We tested the physiological efficacy of Bilateral, Anodal or Cathodal TDCS in changing motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the healthy brain and their behavioural efficacy in changing reaction times with the paretic hand in chronic stroke. In addition, we aimed to identify clinical or neurochemical predictors of patients' behavioural response to TDCS. There were three main findings: 1) unlike Anodal and Cathodal TDCS, Bilateral M1–M1 TDCS (1 mA, 20 min) had no significant effect on MEPs in the healthy brain or on reaction time with the paretic hand in chronic stroke patients; 2) GABA levels in ipsilesional M1 predicted patients' behavioural gains from Anodal TDCS; and 3) although patients were in the chronic phase, time since stroke (and its combination with Fugl–Meyer score) was a positive predictor of behavioural gain from Cathodal TDCS. These findings indicate the superiority of Anodal or Cathodal over Bilateral TDCS in changing motor cortico-spinal excitability in the healthy brain and in speeding reaction time in chronic stroke. The identified clinical and neurochemical markers of behavioural response should help to inform the optimization of TDCS delivery and to predict patient outcome variability in future TDCS intervention studies in chronic motor stroke.
Highlights
•Ipsilesional M1 GABA levels predict motor gains from Anodal TDCS in chronic stroke.•Time since stroke and Fugl–Meyer score jointly predict response to Cathodal TDCS.•Bilateral motor cortex TDCS did not reliably change motor evoked potentials.•Bilateral motor cortex TDCS did not reliably change manual reaction time.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.096
PMCID: PMC3899017  PMID: 23727528
Motor stroke; Plasticity; TDCS; Brain stimulation; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy; GABA
2.  Relationships between functional and structural corticospinal tract integrity and walking post stroke 
Clinical Neurophysiology  2012;123(12):2422-2428.
Highlights
► We investigated the relationship between walking impairment after stroke and integrity of the corticospinal tract (CST). ► We used transcranial magnetic stimulation and diffusion tensor imaging to assess CST integrity. ► We demonstrate that patients with more ipsilateral connectivity between the unlesioned M1 and the affected leg had more structural damage to their CST.
Objective
Studies on upper limb recovery following stroke have highlighted the importance of the structural and functional integrity of the corticospinal tract (CST) in determining clinical outcomes. However, such relationships have not been fully explored for the lower limb. We aimed to test whether variation in walking impairment was associated with variation in the structural or functional integrity of the CST.
Methods
Transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to stimulate each motor cortex while EMG recordings were taken from the vastus lateralis (VL) bilaterally; these EMG measures were used to calculate both ipsilateral and contralateral recruitment curves for each lower limb. The slope of these recruitment curves was used to examine the strength of functional connectivity from the motor cortex in each hemisphere to the lower limbs in chronic stroke patients and to calculate a ratio between ipsilateral and contralateral outputs referred to as the functional connectivity ratio (FCR). The structural integrity of the CST was assessed using diffusion tensor MRI to measure the asymmetry in fractional anisotropy (FA) of the internal capsule. Lower limb impairment and walking speed were also measured.
Results
The FCR for the paretic leg correlated with walking impairment, such that greater relative ipsilateral connectivity was associated with slower walking speeds. Asymmetrical FA values, reflecting reduced structural integrity of the lesioned CST, were associated with greater walking impairment. FCR and FA asymmetry were strongly positively correlated with each other.
Conclusions
Patients with relatively greater ipsilateral connectivity between the contralesional motor cortex and the paretic lower limb were more behaviorally impaired and had more structural damage to their ipsilesional hemisphere CST.
Significance
Measures of structural and functional damage may be useful in the selection of therapeutic strategies, allowing for more tailored and potentially more beneficial treatments.
doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2012.04.026
PMCID: PMC3778984  PMID: 22717679
CST, corticospinal tract; DTI, diffusion tensor imaging; FA, fractional anisotropy; FCR, functional connectivity ratio; M1, primary motor cortex; TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation; VL, vastus lateralis; Stroke; Locomotion; Motor recovery; TMS; DTI
3.  Comparison of embedded and added motor imagery training in patients after stroke: results of a randomised controlled pilot trial 
Trials  2012;13:11.
Background
Motor imagery (MI) when combined with physiotherapy can offer functional benefits after stroke. Two MI integration strategies exist: added and embedded MI. Both approaches were compared when learning a complex motor task (MT): 'Going down, laying on the floor, and getting up again'.
Methods
Outpatients after first stroke participated in a single-blinded, randomised controlled trial with MI embedded into physiotherapy (EG1), MI added to physiotherapy (EG2), and a control group (CG). All groups participated in six physiotherapy sessions. Primary study outcome was time (sec) to perform the motor task at pre and post-intervention. Secondary outcomes: level of help needed, stages of MT-completion, independence, balance, fear of falling (FOF), MI ability. Data were collected four times: twice during one week baseline phase (BL, T0), following the two week intervention (T1), after a two week follow-up (FU). Analysis of variance was performed.
Results
Thirty nine outpatients were included (12 females, age: 63.4 ± 10 years; time since stroke: 3.5 ± 2 years; 29 with an ischemic event). All were able to complete the motor task using the standardised 7-step procedure and reduced FOF at T0, T1, and FU. Times to perform the MT at baseline were 44.2 ± 22s, 64.6 ± 50s, and 118.3 ± 93s for EG1 (N = 13), EG2 (N = 12), and CG (N = 14). All groups showed significant improvement in time to complete the MT (p < 0.001) and degree of help needed to perform the task: minimal assistance to supervision (CG) and independent performance (EG1+2). No between group differences were found. Only EG1 demonstrated changes in MI ability over time with the visual indicator increasing from T0 to T1 and decreasing from T1 to FU. The kinaesthetic indicator increased from T1 to FU. Patients indicated to value the MI training and continued using MI for other difficult-to-perform tasks.
Conclusions
Embedded or added MI training combined with physiotherapy seem to be feasible and benefi-cial to learn the MT with emphasis on getting up independently. Based on their baseline level CG had the highest potential to improve outcomes. A patient study with 35 patients per group could give a conclusive answer of a superior MI integration strategy.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00858910
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-11
PMCID: PMC3316146  PMID: 22269834
4.  Cortical activation changes underlying stimulation-induced behavioural gains in chronic stroke 
Brain  2011;135(1):276-284.
Transcranial direct current stimulation, a form of non-invasive brain stimulation, is showing increasing promise as an adjunct therapy in rehabilitation following stroke. However, although significant behavioural improvements have been reported in proof-of-principle studies, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The rationale for transcranial direct current stimulation as therapy for stroke is that therapeutic stimulation paradigms increase activity in ipsilesional motor cortical areas, but this has not previously been directly tested for conventional electrode placements. This study was performed to test directly whether increases in ipsilesional cortical activation with transcranial direct current stimulation are associated with behavioural improvements in chronic stroke patients. Patients at least 6 months post-first stroke participated in a behavioural experiment (n = 13) or a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment (n = 11), each investigating the effects of three stimulation conditions in separate sessions: anodal stimulation to the ipsilesional hemisphere; cathodal stimulation to the contralesional hemisphere; and sham stimulation. Anodal (facilitatory) stimulation to the ipsilesional hemisphere led to significant improvements (5–10%) in response times with the affected hand in both experiments. This improvement was associated with an increase in movement-related cortical activity in the stimulated primary motor cortex and functionally interconnected regions. Cathodal (inhibitory) stimulation to the contralesional hemisphere led to a functional improvement only when compared with sham stimulation. We show for the first time that the significant behavioural improvements produced by anodal stimulation to the ipsilesional hemisphere are associated with a functionally relevant increase in activity within the ipsilesional primary motor cortex in patients with a wide range of disabilities following stroke.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr313
PMCID: PMC3267983  PMID: 22155982
transcranial direct current stimulation; stroke rehabilitation; motor system
5.  Best practice for motor imagery: a systematic literature review on motor imagery training elements in five different disciplines 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:75.
Background
The literature suggests a beneficial effect of motor imagery (MI) if combined with physical practice, but detailed descriptions of MI training session (MITS) elements and temporal parameters are lacking. The aim of this review was to identify the characteristics of a successful MITS and compare these for different disciplines, MI session types, task focus, age, gender and MI modification during intervention.
Methods
An extended systematic literature search using 24 databases was performed for five disciplines: Education, Medicine, Music, Psychology and Sports. References that described an MI intervention that focused on motor skills, performance or strength improvement were included. Information describing 17 MITS elements was extracted based on the PETTLEP (physical, environment, timing, task, learning, emotion, perspective) approach. Seven elements describing the MITS temporal parameters were calculated: study duration, intervention duration, MITS duration, total MITS count, MITS per week, MI trials per MITS and total MI training time.
Results
Both independent reviewers found 96% congruity, which was tested on a random sample of 20% of all references. After selection, 133 studies reporting 141 MI interventions were included. The locations of the MITS and position of the participants during MI were task-specific. Participants received acoustic detailed MI instructions, which were mostly standardised and live. During MI practice, participants kept their eyes closed. MI training was performed from an internal perspective with a kinaesthetic mode. Changes in MI content, duration and dosage were reported in 31 MI interventions. Familiarisation sessions before the start of the MI intervention were mentioned in 17 reports. MI interventions focused with decreasing relevance on motor-, cognitive- and strength-focused tasks. Average study intervention lasted 34 days, with participants practicing MI on average three times per week for 17 minutes, with 34 MI trials. Average total MI time was 178 minutes including 13 MITS. Reporting rate varied between 25.5% and 95.5%.
Conclusions
MITS elements of successful interventions were individual, supervised and non-directed sessions, added after physical practice. Successful design characteristics were dominant in the Psychology literature, in interventions focusing on motor and strength-related tasks, in interventions with participants aged 20 to 29 years old, and in MI interventions including participants of both genders. Systematic searching of the MI literature was constrained by the lack of a defined MeSH term.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-75
PMCID: PMC3141540  PMID: 21682867
6.  Comparison of embedded and added motor imagery training in patients after stroke: study protocol of a randomised controlled pilot trial using a mixed methods approach 
Trials  2009;10:97.
Background
Two different approaches have been adopted when applying motor imagery (MI) to stroke patients. MI can be conducted either added to conventional physiotherapy or integrated within therapy sessions. The proposed study aims to compare the efficacy of embedded MI to an added MI intervention. Evidence from pilot studies reported in the literature suggests that both approaches can improve performance of a complex motor skill involving whole body movements, however, it remains to be demonstrated, which is the more effective one.
Methods/Design
A single blinded, randomised controlled trial (RCT) with a pre-post intervention design will be carried out. The study design includes two experimental groups and a control group (CG). Both experimental groups (EG1, EG2) will receive physical practice of a clinical relevant motor task ('Going down, laying on the floor, and getting up again') over a two week intervention period: EG1 with embedded MI training, EG2 with MI training added after physiotherapy. The CG will receive standard physiotherapy intervention and an additional control intervention not related to MI.
The primary study outcome is the time difference to perform the task from pre to post-intervention. Secondary outcomes include level of help needed, stages of motor task completion, degree of motor impairment, balance ability, fear of falling measure, motivation score, and motor imagery ability score. Four data collection points are proposed: twice during baseline phase, once following the intervention period, and once after a two week follow up. A nested qualitative part should add an important insight into patients' experience and attitudes towards MI. Semi-structured interviews of six to ten patients, who participate in the RCT, will be conducted to investigate patients' previous experience with MI and their expectations towards the MI intervention in the study. Patients will be interviewed prior and after the intervention period.
Discussion
Results will determine whether embedded MI is superior to added MI. Findings of the semi-structured interviews will help to integrate patient's expectations of MI interventions in the design of research studies to improve practical applicability using MI as an adjunct therapy technique.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00858910
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-10-97
PMCID: PMC2775030  PMID: 19849835

Results 1-6 (6)