BACKGROUND: Predicting sensorimotor upper limb outcome receives continued attention in stroke. Neurophysiological measures by electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) could increase the accuracy of predicting sensorimotor upper limb recovery.
NEW METHOD: The aim of this systematic review was to summarize the current evidence for EEG/MEG-based measures to index neural activity after stroke and the relationship between abnormal neural activity and sensorimotor upper limb impairment. Relevant papers from databases EMBASE, CINHAL, MEDLINE and pubMED were identified. Methodological quality of selected studies was assessed with the Modified Downs and Black form. Data collected was reported descriptively.
RESULTS: Seventeen papers were included; 13 used EEG and 4 used MEG applications. Findings showed that: (a) the presence of somatosensory evoked potentials in the acute stage are related to better outcome of upper limb motor impairment from 10 weeks to 6 months post-stroke; (b) an interhemispheric imbalance of cortical oscillatory signals associated with upper limb impairment; and (c) predictive models including beta oscillatory cortical signal factors with corticospinal integrity and clinical measures could enhance upper limb motor prognosis.
COMPARING WITH EXISTING METHOD: The combination of neurological biomarkers with clinical measures results in higher statistical power than using neurological biomarkers alone when predicting motor recovery in stroke.
CONCLUSIONS: Alterations in neural activity by means of EEG and MEG are demonstrated from the early post-stroke stage onwards, and related to sensorimotor upper limb impairment. Future work exploring cortical oscillatory signals in the acute stage could provide further insight about prediction of upper limb sensorimotor recovery.