Electrical Stimulation Helps Ataxia Symptoms


Brain and spinal cord tDCS improved all performance scores in trial.

Direct current electrical stimulation to the brain and spinal cord appeared effective in treating symptoms of neurodegenerative ataxia, researchers in Italy said.

In a double-blind, randomized, crossover trial, ataxia patients who had transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) showed improvement in all performance areas, motor cortex excitability, and cerebellar brain inhibition compared with sham stimulation, reported Barbara Borroni, MD, of the University of Brescia, and co-authors in Neurology.

“We found that treatment with concurrent cerebellar and spinal electrical stimulation in patients with ataxia may reduce clinical symptoms, improve quality of life and restore the physiological inhibition, mediated by the cerebellum, on the motor cortex,” co-author Alberto Benussi, MD, also of the University of Brescia, told MedPage Today.“This is of particular relevance in light of limited pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatment options for patients with ataxia.”

tDCS delivers a low-voltage electrical current to the scalp or spine. It is non-invasive and has been studied in chronic pain, post-stroke dysphagia, and as adjunctive treatment in bipolar depression.

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