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Neurosci Lett. 1998 Jun 26;250(1):5-8.

Motor cortex plasticity during constraint-induced movement therapy in stroke patients.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, Germany.


Stroke patients in the chronic phase received constraint-induced (CI) movement therapy. The motor cortex was spatially mapped using focal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) before and after 2 weeks of treatment. Motor-output areas of the abductor pollicis brevis muscle, motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitudes and location of centre of gravity (CoG) of motor cortex output were studied. After CI therapy, motor performance improved substantially in all patients. There was also an increase of motor output area size and MEP amplitudes, indicating enhanced neuronal excitability in the damaged hemisphere for the target muscles. The mean centre of gravity of the motor output maps was shifted considerably after the rehabilitation, indicating the recruitment of motor areas adjacent to the original location. Thus, even in chronic stroke patients, reduced motor cortex representations of an affected body part can be enlarged and increased in level of excitability by an effective rehabilitation procedure. The data therefore demonstrate a CNS correlate of therapy-induced recovery of function after nervous system damage in humans.

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