Improvement of Poststroke Cognitive Impairment by Intermittent Theta Bursts: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

SOURCE: Brain and Behavior. 12(6):e2569, 2022 06.

AUTHORS: Li W; Wen Q; Xie YH; Hu AL; Wu Q; Wang YX

BACKGROUND: Intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) is known to improve cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, but studies are lacking with respect to the efficacy of iTBS on poststroke cognitive impairment (PSCI).

OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted to investigate the effect of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) iTBS on improving cognitive function in stroke patients.

METHODS: Fifty-eight patients with PSCI are randomly divided into iTBS (n = 28) and sham stimulation groups (n = 30). Both groups receive routine cognitive-related rehabilitation. The iTBS group is treated with iTBS intervention of the left DLPFC, and the sham stimulation group is treated with the same parameters at the same site for 2 weeks. Outcome measures are assessed at baseline (T0) and immediately after the last intervention (T1) by mini-mental state examination (MMSE), Oxford cognitive screen, and event-related potential P300.

RESULTS: There are no differences in baseline clinical characteristics between the two groups. After intervention, the MMSE scores and P300 amplitude increase significantly for both groups, and the P300 incubation period reduces significantly. The change value of the iTBS group is significantly higher than that of sham stimulation group (p < .05). Compared with the sham stimulation group, the iTBS group has more significant changes in semantic comprehension and executive function (p < .05).

CONCLUSION: iTBS can effectively and safely improve overall cognitive impairment in stroke patients, including semantic understanding and executive function, and it also has a positive impact on memory function. Future randomized controlled studies with large samples and long-term follow-up should be conducted to further validate the results of the present study.