A team of researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, are trying to help stroke patients improve arm movement by using a device called a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) to reduce activity on the healthy side of the brain, so that the stroke-injured side may be better able to recover. The researchers say that when one side of the brain is damaged by a stroke, the healthy side becomes overactive to compensate, which may actually prevent the injured side from recovering.

In the study, researchers are using stereotactic MRI-guided repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to non-invasively modulate precise areas of the motor cortex. The system’s targeting tool allows the therapist to accurately locate the patient’s exact stimulation target using technology similar to mapping the globe with a GPS. The n-rTMS is used to stimulate the patient´s non-injured brain hemisphere at a low frequency.

This results in down-regulation of the excitability of the healthy side and restores a balance between the lesioned and healthy sides, allowing the lesioned side to regain function. Adding navigation to TMS is the key to finding the exact location and orientation of the motor area that should be inhibited by stimulation. The stimulation is then accurately repeated in every session, assuring the dose is applied to the correct place, they said.

Other sites in the clinical trial are Mayo Clinic in Arizona; Ranchos Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Institute in California; Shepherd Center in Georgia; Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Indiana University; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Massachusetts; Columbia University; Burke Rehabilitation Center in New York; Duke University, University of Cincinnati; and TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Texas.