TDCS does not enhance the effects of robot-assisted gait training in patients with subacute stroke

Document Type

Journal Article


IOS Press

Place of Publication



School of Medical and Health Sciences




Leon, D., Cortes, M., Elder, J., Kumru, H., Laxe, S., Edwards, D. J., ... & Pascual-Leone, A. (2017). tDCS does not enhance the effects of robot-assisted gait training in patient with subacute stroke. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 35(4), 377-384. Available here.


Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, which can modulate cortical excitability and combined with rehabilitation therapies may improve motor recovery after stroke. Objective: Our aim was to study the feasibility of a 4-week robotic gait training protocol combined with tDCS, and to study tDCS to the leg versus hand motor cortex or sham to improve walking ability in patients after a subacute stroke. Methods: Forty-nine subacute stroke patients underwent 20 daily sessions (5 days a week for 4 weeks) of robotic gait training combined with tDCS. Patients were assigned either to the tDCSleg group (n = 9), receiving 2mA anodal tDCS over the motor cortex leg representation (vertex), or an active control group (n = 17) receiving anodal tDCS over the hand motor cortex area (tDCShand). In addition, we studied 23 matched patients in a control group receiving gait training without tDCS (notDCS). Study outcomes included gait speed (10-meter walking test), and quality of gait, using the Functional Ambulatory Category (FAC) before and after the 4-week training period. Results: Only one patient did not complete the treatment because he presented a minor side-effect. Patients in all three groups showed a significantly improvement in gait speed and FAC. The tDCSleg group did not perform better than the tDCShand or notDCS group. Conclusion: Combined tDCS and robotic training is a safe and feasible procedure in subacute stroke patients. However, adding tDCS to robot-assisted gait training shows no benefit over robotic gait training alone.



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