Effects of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation combined with virtual reality for improving gait in children with spastic diparetic cerebral palsy: a pilot, randomized, controlled, double-blind, clinical trial

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Abstract

Objective:

To compare the effects of anodal vs. sham transcranial direct current stimulation combined with virtual reality training for improving gait in children with cerebral palsy.

Design:

A pilot, randomized, controlled, double-blind, clinical trial.

Setting:

Rehabilitation clinics.

Subjects:

A total of 20 children with diparesis owing to cerebral palsy.

Interventions:

The experimental group received anodal stimulation and the control group received sham stimulation over the primary motor cortex during virtual reality training. All patients underwent the same training programme involving a virtual reality (10 sessions). Evaluations were performed before and after the intervention as well as at the one-month follow-up and involved gait analysis, the Gross Motor Function Measure, the Pediatric Evaluation Disability Inventory and the determination of motor evoked potentials.

Results:

The experimental group had a better performance regarding gait velocity (experimental group: 0.63 ±0.17 to 0.85 ±0.11 m/s; control group: 0.73 ±0.15 to 0.61 ±0.15 m/s), cadence (experimental group: 97.4 ±14.1 to 116.8 ±8.7 steps/minute; control group: 92.6 ±10.4 to 99.7 ±9.7 steps/minute), gross motor function (dimension D experimental group: 59.7 ±12.8 to 74.9 ±13.8; control group: 58.9 ±10.4 to 69.4 ±9.3; dimension E experimental group: 59.0 ±10.9 to 79.1 ±8.5; control group: 60.3 ±10.1 to 67.4 ±11.4) and independent mobility (experimental group: 34.3 ±5.9 to 43.8 ±75.3; control group: 34.4 ±8.3 to 37.7 ±7.7). Moreover, transcranial direct current stimulation led to a significant increase in motor evoked potential (experimental group: 1.4 ±0.7 to 2.6 ±0.4; control group: 1.3 ±0.6 to 1.6 ±0.4).

Conclusion:

These preliminary findings support the hypothesis that anodal transcranial direct current stimulation combined with virtual reality training could be a useful tool for improving gait in children with cerebral palsy.

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