The excitability of the motor areas of the cerebral cortex is reduced in ataxia. Since transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive neuromodulation technique able to increase the cortical excitability, we assessed the effect of anodal tDCS over the motor cortex in three patients with ataxia. A clinical evaluation, a video-taped SARA rating scale and a gait analysis with cinematic parameters, were performed pre- and post-sham and anodal tDCS cycle. The full cycle was composed by five consecutive constant current sessions of stimulation. Anodal tDCS (2.0 mA, 20 min, max current density: 0.0278 mA/cm2, max total charge: 0.033 C/cm2) was performed on the M1 area of the most affected side. The contralateral primary motor cortex underwent cathodal stimulation (2.0 mA, 20 min, max current density: 0.0278 mA/cm2, max total charge: 0.033 C/cm2). After anodal tDCS, gait analysis revealed an improvement of the symmetry of step execution and reduction of base-width lasting 30 days associated to patients' perception of amelioration. No relevant changes were found after sham stimulation. Our results suggest tDCS can improve gait symmetry in patients with ataxia for a short-term period. Future researches are needed in order to standardize time, amplitude, and area of stimulation in order to reach a long lasting effect on cerebellar ataxia.
- Cerebellar ataxia
- Gait analysis
- Transcranial direct current stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology