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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006 Dec;87(12 Suppl 2):S59-66.

Assessing and inducing neuroplasticity with transcranial magnetic stimulation and robotics for motor function.

Author information

  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005-1892, USA. omalleym@rice.edu



To describe 2 new ways of assessing and inducing neuroplasticity in the human brain--transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and robotics--and to investigate and promote the recovery of motor function after brain damage.


We identified recent articles and books directly bearing on TMS and robotics. Articles using these tools for purposes other than rehabilitation were excluded. From these studies, we emphasize the methodologic and technical details of these tools as applicable for assessing and inducing plasticity.


Because both tools have only recently been used for rehabilitation, the majority of the articles selected for this review have been published only within the last 10 years.


We used the PubMed and Compendex databases to find relevant peer-reviewed studies for this review. The studies were required to be relevant to rehabilitation and to use TMS or robotics methodologies. Guidelines were applied via independent extraction by multiple observers.


Despite the limited amount of research using these procedures for assessing and inducing neuroplasticity, there is growing evidence that both TMS and robotics can be very effective, inexpensive, and convenient ways for assessing and inducing rehabilitation. Although TMS has primarily been used as an assessment tool for motor function, an increasing number of studies are using TMS as a tool to directly induce plasticity and improve motor function. Similarly, robotic devices have been used for rehabilitation because of their suitability for delivery of highly repeatable training. New directions in robotics-assisted rehabilitation are taking advantage of novel measurements that can be acquired via the devices, enabling unique methods of assessment of motor recovery.


As refinements in technology and advances in our knowledge continue, TMS and robotics should play an increasing role in assessing and promoting the recovery of function. Ongoing and future studies combining TMS and robotics within the same populations may prove fruitful for a more detailed and comprehensive assessment of the central and peripheral changes in the nervous system during precisely induced recovery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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