Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for stroke rehabilitation-potential therapy or misplaced hope?

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    © 2015 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. Repeated sessions of transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) are capable of changing and modulating neural activity beyond the period of stimulation. Because many neurological disorders are thought to involve abnormal or dysfunctional neuronal activity, it is hypothesised that the therapeutic action of rTMS may occur through modulating and reversing abnormal activity and facilitating neuroplasticity. Numerous clinical studies have investigated the safety and efficacy of rTMS treatment for a wide variety of conditions including depression, anxiety disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinson's disease, stroke, tinnitus, affective disorders, schizophrenia and chronic pain. Despite some promising results, rTMS is not currently widely used to assist in recovery from neurotrama. In this review, we argue that the therapeutic promise of rTMS is limited because the mechanisms of action of rTMS are not completely understood and therefore it is difficult to determine which treatment protocols are appropriate for specific neurological conditions. We use the application of rTMS in motor functional recovery from cerebral ischemic stroke to illustrate the difficulties in interpreting and assessing the therapeutic potential of rTMS for neurotrauma in terms of the presumed mechanisms of action of rTMS. Future directions for research will also be discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)557-569
    JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2015


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