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Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2004;22(3-5):393-8.

Advances in adjuvant pharmacotherapy for motor rehabilitation: effects of levodopa.

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Neurologische Klinik Bad Aibling, Kolbermoorer Str. 72, D-83043 Bad Aibling, Germany.


Hemiparesis is common after stroke and often severely disabling. Until very recently, the only therapeutic option for motor recovery was physiotherapeutic training. Experimental animal studies have shown that when applied in addition to exercises pharmacological interventions that affect the norepinephrine system can enhance the rate of functional motor recovery. These effects were observed when an increase in norepinephrine concentration in the CNS was pharmacologically induced. We recently showed that 3 weeks of single daily doses of 100 mg L-dopa, which is metabolized into norepinephrine in the brain, increase the efficacy of physiotherapy in hemiparetic stroke patients. Two additional randomized controlled trials with stroke patients also demonstrated the clinical relevance of this approach for motor recovery and independence in activities of daily living. Modifying effects of other frequently occurring clinical symptoms such as spasticity, neglect, and attention were also investigated. Thus, in view of its minimal side effects, L-dopa can be recommended in conjunction with exercise therapy to improve the functional outcome in stroke rehabilitation.

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