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Neurology. 2012 Jul 3;79(1):39-46. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31825f25e7. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

A new early and automated MRI-based predictor of motor improvement after stroke.

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Departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. Corr



In this study, we investigated the structural plasticity of the contralesional motor network in ischemic stroke patients using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and explored a model that combines a MRI-based metric of contralesional network integrity and clinical data to predict functional outcome at 6 months after stroke.


MRI and clinical examinations were performed in 12 patients in the acute phase, at 1 and 6 months after stroke. Twelve age- and gender-matched controls underwent 2 MRIs 1 month apart. Structural remodeling after stroke was assessed using diffusion MRI with an automated measurement of generalized fractional anisotropy (GFA), which was calculated along connections between contralesional cortical motor areas. The predictive model of poststroke functional outcome was computed using a linear regression of acute GFA measures and the clinical assessment.


GFA changes in the contralesional motor tracts were found in all patients and differed significantly from controls (0.001 ≤ p < 0.05). GFA changes in intrahemispheric and interhemispheric motor tracts correlated with age (p ≤ 0.01); those in intrahemispheric motor tracts correlated strongly with clinical scores and stroke sizes (p ≤ 0.001). GFA measured in the acute phase together with a routine motor score and age were a strong predictor of motor outcome at 6 months (r(2) = 0.96, p = 0.0002).


These findings represent a proof of principle that contralesional diffusion MRI measures may provide reliable information for personalized rehabilitation planning after ischemic motor stroke.

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