Temporary functional deafferentation is of interest to become an additional tool in neurorehabilitative treatments. Temporary functional deafferentation is known to improve sensory and motor outcomes in chronic stroke patients and healthy subjects. The present study soughts to indicate differences in the efficiency of pharmacologically induced temporary functional deafferentation between chronic stroke patients and matched healthy subjects. 46 chronic stroke patients and 20 age- and gender-matched healthy subjects were deafferented on one forearm by an anesthetic cream. Somatosensory performance was assessed using von-Frey Hair testing and Grating orientation task; motor performance was assessed by means of a shape-sorter-drum task.
Grating orientation task and shape-sorter-drum task were significantly improved during temporary functional deafferentation in stroke patients but not in healthy subjects. Von-Frey Hair testing revealed no improvement of absolute tactile thresholds during temporary functional deafferentation in both groups. Furthermore, the stroke patients showed deficits at baseline measurement in all assessments except the von-Frey Hair test. Temporary functional deafferentation of a forearm by an anesthetic cream results in improvements of motor performance and somatosensory discrimination in stroke patients but not in healthy subjects. Therefore, it is reasonable to test in a next step whether temporary functional deafferentation might become an additional tool in motor rehabilitation of post stroke patients.