Objective: Cortico-cortical circuits originating from the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) of the intact left hemisphere (LH) may become hyperexcitable in patients with hemispatial neglect due to a right hemispheric (RH) stroke. Methods: In the current randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study, we investigated safety and efficacy of continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) in 10 sessions over 2 weeks applied over the intact PPC of the LH in subacute ischemic stroke patients. Severity of neglect was assessed through the standardized Behavioral Inattention Test (BIT). We also measured, by means of bifocal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), how cTBS modified the excitability of the parieto-frontal functional connections in the intact LH. Results: We found that 2 weeks of cTBS, but not sham cTBS, were effective in improving neglect symptoms as measured by BIT score. BIT scores improved by 16.3% after 2 weeks of cTBS and 22.6% at 1 month follow-up. We also found that hyperexcitability of LH parieto-frontal circuits was reduced following treatment with real but not sham cTBS. Conclusion: These findings suggest that a 2-week course of cTBS over the LH PPC may be a potential effective strategy in accelerating recovery from visuospatial neglect in subacute stroke patients, possibly counteracting the hyperexcitability of LH parieto-frontal circuits. Classification of evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that left posterior parietal cortex theta-burst stimulation improves hemispatial neglect for up to 2 weeks after treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)