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Dysphagia. 2009 Jun;24(2):204-10. doi: 10.1007/s00455-008-9195-7. Epub 2008 Oct 28.

Poststroke dysphagia rehabilitation by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: a noncontrolled pilot study.

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  • 1Service de Physiologie Digestive, Urinaire, Respiratoire et Sportive, CHU de ROUEN, 1 rue de Germont, 76031, Rouen Cedex, France. eric.verin@chu-rouen.fr


Poststroke dysphagia is frequent and significantly increases patient mortality. In two thirds of cases there is a spontaneous improvement in a few weeks, but in the other third, oropharyngeal dysphagia persists. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is known to excite or inhibit cortical neurons, depending on stimulation frequency. The aim of this noncontrolled pilot study was to assess the feasibility and the effects of 1-Hz rTMS, known to have an inhibitory effect, on poststroke dysphagia. Seven patients (3 females, age = 65 +/- 10 years), with poststroke dysphagia due to hemispheric or subhemispheric stroke more than 6 months earlier (56 +/- 50 months) diagnosed by videofluoroscopy, participated in the study. rTMS at 1 Hz was applied for 20 min per day every day for 5 days to the healthy hemisphere to decrease transcallosal inhibition. The evaluation was performed using the dysphagia handicap index and videofluoroscopy. The dysphagia handicap index demonstrated that the patients had mild oropharyngeal dysphagia. Initially, the score was 43 +/- 9 of a possible 120 which decreased to 30 +/- 7 (p < 0.05) after rTMS. After rTMS, there was an improvement of swallowing coordination, with a decrease in swallow reaction time for liquids (p = 0.0506) and paste (p < 0.01), although oral transit time, pharyngeal transit time, and laryngeal closure duration were not modified. Aspiration score significantly decreased for liquids (p < 0.05) and residue score decreased for paste (p < 0.05). This pilot study demonstrated that rTMS is feasible in poststroke dysphagia and improves swallowing coordination. Our results now need to be confirmed by a randomized controlled study with a larger patient population.

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