Winner of the 4th WFNR Franz Gerstenbrand Award announced

Posted in Awards & Appointments on 13th Mar 2017

 

Dr Charlotte Stagg, Associate Professor and Sir Henry Dale Fellow who is based at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, UK is the winner of the 2016 WFNR Franz Gerstenbrand Award.

Chronic stroke is one of the most common causes of long-term neurological disability.  The recovery of hand function is extremely important for stroke survivors but intensive physiotherapy, the current ‘gold’ standard intervention is expensive, in short supply and inherently limited by the activity of the residual cortex.

One potential adjunct therapy is transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to the ipsilesional primary motor cortex (M1).  Anodal transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (A-tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that involves passing a 1mA current through the brain via two scalp electrodes, with one centred over the ipsilesional M1.

Dr Stagg reported on a randomised, double-blind placebo controlled trial using A-tDCS as an adjunct to physiotherapy in patients with chronic stroke.  Patients received a one-hour long standardised upper limb training intervention across nine consecutive working days, with tDCS applied during the first 20 minutes each day.  They were then assessed before, one day, one week, one month and three months after the intervention.  Patients also had an MRI scan where a range of sequences were acquired, including functional MRI and measures of grey matter volume.

Overall the improvements in function seen in the A-tDCS group reflected meaningful long-lasting functional benefits.  As A-tDCS is a relatively cheap, well-tolerated and easy-to-use approach, the results of this study suggest that it could rapidly become part of clinical practice and guide therapy developments.

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