Changes in brain morphometry after motor rehabilitation in chronic stroke

Somatosens Mot Res. 2021 Sep 2:1-10. doi: 10.1080/08990220.2021.1968369. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Recent studies have revealed structural changes after motor rehabilitation, but its morphological changes related to upper limb motor behaviours have not been studied exhaustively. Therefore, we aimed to map the grey matter (GM) changes associated with motor rehabilitation after stroke using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), deformation-based morphometry (DBM), and surface-based morphometry (SBM).

METHODS: Forty-one patients with chronic stroke received twelve sessions of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation plus intensive occupational therapy. MRI data were obtained before and after the intervention. Fugl-Meyer Assessment and Wolf Motor Function Test-Functional Ability Scale were assessed at the two-time points. We performed VBM, DBM, and SBM analyses using T1-weighted images. A correlation analysis was performed between cortical thickness in motor areas and clinical outcomes.

RESULTS: Clinical outcomes significantly improved after the intervention. VBM showed significant GM volume changes in ipsilesional and contralesional primary motor regions. DBM results demonstrated GM changes contralesionally and ipsilesionally after the intervention. SBM results showed significant cortical thickness changes in posterior visuomotor coordination, precentral, postcentral gyri of the ipsilesional hemisphere and contralesional visuomotor area after the intervention. A combination of threshold p < .05, False Discovery Rate and p < .001 (uncorrected) were considered significant. In addition, cortical thickness changes of the ipsilesional motor areas were significantly correlated with the clinical outcome changes.

CONCLUSIONS: We found GM structural changes in areas involved in motor, visuomotor and somatosensory functions after the intervention. Furthermore, our findings suggest that structural plasticity changes in chronic stroke could occur in the ipsilesional and contralesional hemispheres after motor rehabilitation.

PMID:34472386 | DOI:10.1080/08990220.2021.1968369

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