The Effect of Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (Nibs) on Executive Functioning, Attention and Memory in Rehabilitation Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury: A Systematic Review.

Source: Diagnostics. 11(4) (no pagination), 2021. Article Number: 627.

Date of Publication: April 2021.

Authors: Hara T.; Shanmugalingam A.; McIntyre A.; Burhan A.M.

Abstract: In recent years, the potential of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) for therapeutic effects on cognitive functions has been explored for populations with traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, there is no systematic NIBS review of TBI cognitive impairment with a focus on stimulation sites and stimulation parameters. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review examining the effectiveness and safety of NIBS for cognitive impairment after a TBI. This study was prospectively registered with the PROSPERO database of systematic reviews (CRD42020183298). All English articles from the following databases were searched from inception up to 31 December 2020: Pubmed/MEDLINE, Scopus, CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO and CENTRAL. Randomized and prospective controlled trials, including cross-over studies, were included for analysis. Studies with at least five individuals with TBI, whereby at least five sessions of NIBS were provided and used standardized neuropsychological measurement of cognition, were included. A total of five studies met eligibility criteria. Two studies used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and three studies used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The pooled sample size was 44 individuals for rTMS and 91 for tDCS. Three of five studies combined cognitive training or additional therapy (computer assisted) with NIBS. Regarding rTMS, target symptoms included attention (n = 2), memory (n = 1), and executive function (n = 2); only one study showing significant improvement compared than control group with respect to attention. In tDCS studies, target symptoms included cognition (n = 2), attention (n = 3), memory (n = 3), working memory (WM) (n = 3), and executive function (n = 1); two of three studies showed significant improvement compared to the control group with respect to attention and memory. The evidence for NIBS effectiveness in rehabilitation of cognitive function in TBI is still in its infancy, more studies are needed. In all studies, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) was selected as the stimulation site, along with the stimulation pattern promoting the activation of the left DLPFC. In some studies, there was a significant improvement compared to the control group, but neither rTMS nor tDCS had sufficient evidence of effectiveness. To the establishment of evidence we need the evaluation of brain activity at the stimulation site and related areas using neuroimaging on how NIBS acts on the neural network.