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Magnetic Stimulation May Speed Stroke Rehab

New Therapy May Improve Movement and Stroke Recovery

WebMD Health News

Nov. 5, 2004 -- A new therapy that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain may help restore lost function after a stroke and speed recovery, a new study suggests.

Researchers found the therapy, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, improved motor function and brain function in a small group of stroke patients.

In transcranial magnetic stimulation, an insulated wire coil is placed on the scalp. A brief electrical current is passed through the coil, creating a magnetic pulse that stimulates the outer part of the brain, called the cortex. This may cause muscle, hand or arm twitching if the coil is near the part of the brain that controls movement, or it may affect reflexes.

This repetitive magnetic stimulation of the brain is thought to help the brain recover more quickly after a stroke.

New Tool for Stroke Recovery

In the study, researchers evaluated the effects of the therapy on 10 stoke patients with paralysis over half of their body.

All of the patients were relearning to use their paralyzed hand and were told to push a button when they saw numbers flash on a computer screen.

Half of the patients received transcranial magnetic stimulation and the other half received a sham stimulation treatment without magnetic pulses.

The results showed that those who received the magnetic stimulation performed better and had quicker reaction times than those who received the sham treatment.

Researchers presented the results today at the annual meeting of the American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine in Savannah, Georgia.

Researchers say that if future studies confirm these results in a larger number of patients, this type of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation may become a valuable tool in restoring lost movement and improving stroke recovery.

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