Does neuroimaging help to deliver better recovery of movement after stroke?

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Purpose of reviewThis review examines recent brain imaging studies that might contribute to delivering better recovery of motor function after stroke.Recent findingsMost recent studies characterize differences in structural and functional organization of the poststroke brain in relation to impairment, or measure alterations in brain organization as the result of one form of therapy or another. These studies have not altered clinical practice. New approaches can test specific models of motor recovery after stroke. Firstly, anatomical assessment of key motor pathways, particularly corticospinal tract, may be useful in predicting long-term outcomes if used in combination with early clinical scores. Secondly, assessment of neuronal oscillations with electro or magneto-encephalography may provide a novel way of assessing the balance between excitatory and inhibitory cortical processes and thereby provide biomarkers of the potential for experience-dependent plasticity.SummaryMost recent studies are observational and do not test a plausible model of motor recovery after stroke. Brain imaging studies of stroke recovery need to consider how to provide tools to aid prediction of long-term outcome or response to treatment, or describe potential therapeutic targets for novel recovery promoting interventions, if they are to be clinically useful.

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