Mild cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease is improved by transcranial direct current stimulation combined with physical therapy

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Abstract

Background:

Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by both motor and cognitive deficits. In PD, physical exercise has been found to improve physical functioning. Recent studies demonstrated that repeated sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation led to an increased performance in cognitive and motor tasks in patients with PD.

Objectives:

The present study investigated the effects of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation applied over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and combined with physical therapy in PD patients.

Methods:

A total of 20 patients with PD were assigned to 1 of 2 study groups: group 1, anodal transcranial direct current stimulation plus physical therapy (n = 10) or group 2, placebo transcranial direct current stimulation plus physical therapy (n = 10). The 2 weeks of treatment consisted of daily direct current stimulation application for 25 minutes during physical therapy. Long-term effects of treatment were evaluated on clinical, neuropsychological, and motor task performance at 3-month follow-up.

Results:

An improvement in motor abilities and a reduction of depressive symptoms were observed in both groups after the end of treatment and at 3-month follow-up. The Parkinson's Disease Cognitive Rating Scale and verbal fluency test performances increased only in the anodal direct current stimulation group with a stable effect at follow-up.

Conclusions:

The application of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation may be a relevant tool to improve cognitive abilities in PD and might be a novel therapeutic strategy for PD patients with mild cognitive impairment. © 2016 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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