Cerebello-spinal tDCS in ataxia A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled, crossover trial

Alberto Benussi, Valentina Dell'Era, Valentina Cantoni, Elisa Bonetta, Roberto Grasso, Rosa Manenti, Maria Cotelli, Alessandro Padovani, Barbara Borroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To investigate whether a 2-week treatment with cerebellar anodal and spinal cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) could reduce symptoms in patients with neurodegenerative ataxia and could modulate cerebello-motor connectivity at the short and long terms. Methods We performed a double-blind, randomized, sham-controlled, crossover trial with cerebello-spinal tDCS (5 d/wk for 2 weeks) in 20 patients with neurodegenerative ataxia. Each patient underwent a clinical evaluation before and after real tDCS or sham stimulation. A follow-up evaluation was performed at 1 and 3 months with a crossover washout period of 3 months. Cerebello-motor connectivity was evaluated with transcranial magnetic stimulation at baseline and at each follow-up. Results Cerebello-spinal tDCS showed a significant improvement in all performance scores (Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia, International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale, 9-Hole Peg Test, 8-m walking time), in motor cortex excitability, and in cerebellar brain inhibition compared to sham stimulation. Conclusions A 2-week treatment with cerebello-spinal tDCS reduces symptoms in patients with ataxia and restores motor cortex inhibition exerted by cerebellar structures. Cerebello-spinal tDCS might represent a promising future therapeutic and rehabilitative approach in patients with neurodegenerative ataxia, still an orphan disorder of any pharmacologic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1090-E1101
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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