Effectiveness of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Combined with a Brief Exposure Procedure for Post-Stroke Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

SOURCE: Journal of Affective Disorders. 326:89-95, 2023 Apr 01.

AUTHORS: Jiang C; Li Z; Wang J; Liu L; Luo G; Zheng X

ABSTRACT: The incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following stroke ranges from 6.5 % to 25 %. Presently few studies have focused on its treatment. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is often applied as a rehabilitation method after stroke, and it also represents a novel approach to PTSD. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of rTMS (or combined with a brief stroke re-exposure) on treating post-stroke PTSD. Sixty participants with post-stroke PTSD were randomly assigned into three groups (rTMS + brief exposure group, TMS + BE; rTMS alone group, TMS; sham treatment group, ST) and received 10 sessions of treatment accordingly over two weeks. Changes in PTSD symptoms (Impact of Event Scale-Revised, IES-R) were evaluated at pre-treatment (T1), the end of the first (T2), and the end of the second treatment week (T3). At the three-month follow-up (T4), a PTSD interview and IES-R assessment were given. Results showed that from T1 to T3, IES-R (and its intrusion subscale) scores of TMS + BE group and TMS group were significantly lower than the ST group, and the effect remained at three-month follow-up. The treatment effect was comparable between TMS + BE group and TMS group at T3, however, it was better for TMS + BE group than TMS group at T2, indicating a brief exposure promotes the effect of rTMS. At follow-up, the rates of PTSD were lower in TMS + BE group and TMS group than ST group. In conclusion, rTMS can effectively treat post-stroke PTSD and the effects may be accelerated by combining a brief exposure procedure.

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