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J Child Neurol. 2014 Feb;29(2):232-9. doi: 10.1177/0883073813492385. Epub 2013 Jun 11.

Cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation in children with dystonia: a sham-controlled study.

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  • 11Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Increased motor cortex excitability is a common finding in dystonia, and transcranial direct current stimulation can reduce motor cortex excitability. In an earlier study, we found that cathodal direct-current stimulation decreased motor overflow for some children with dystonia. To investigate this observation further, we performed a sham-controlled, double-blind, crossover study of 14 children with dystonia. We found a significant reduction in overflow following real stimulation, when participants performed the experimental task with the hand contralateral to the cathode. While these results suggest that cathodal stimulation may help some children to reduce involuntary overflow, the size of the effect is small. Further research will need to investigate ways to increase the magnitude of the effect of cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation.


child; dystonia; electromyogram; overflow; transcranial direct current stimulation

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