The Effects of tDCS and rTMS on Somatosensory Function and Recovery after Stroke and Central Post Stroke Pain: A Review
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Following stroke, somatosensory impairments are frequently seen. This is associated with impaired motor function, and pain disorders following stroke, such as central post stroke pain (CPSP). Treatment of both somatosensory impairments as well as CPSP remains a challenge. Emerging treatments are non-invasive brain stimulation methods such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). This review aims to evaluate the effects of tDCS and rTMS on 1) somatosensory function and recovery after stroke, and 2) pain relief in patients with CPSP. PubMed and Google Scholar were searched thoroughly, and eventually 20 studies were included. 7 studies in which the effect of tDCS or rTMS on somatosensory function in stroke patients was investigated, and 13 studies in which the effect of tDCS or rTMS on pain relief in patients with CPSP was investigated were analyzed. The results of the included studies suggest a positive effect of tDCS and rTMS on both somatosensory function and recovery after stroke, as well as pain relief in patients with CPSP at least in the short-term. More studies with a sufficient follow-up are needed to determine the long-term effect of both rTMS and tDCS on somatosensory recovery. There seems to be a long-term effect of rTMS on pain relief as well, but for tDCS this is not clear yet.
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