Structural connectivity changes in the motor execution network after stroke rehabilitation

Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2021 Jul 11. doi: 10.3233/RNN-211148. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Although quite a very few studies have tested structural connectivity changes following an intervention, it reflects only selected key brain regions in the motor network. Thus, the understanding of structural connectivity changes related to the motor recovery process remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated structural connectivity changes of the motor execution network following a combined intervention of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (LF-rTMS) and intensive occupational therapy (OT) after a stroke using graph theory approach.

METHODS: Fifty-six stroke patients underwent Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA), Wolf Motor Function Test-Functional Ability Scale (WMFT-FAS), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and T1 weighted imaging before and after the intervention. We examined graph theory measures related to twenty brain regions using structural connectomes.

RESULTS: The ipsilesional and contralesional hemisphere showed structural connectivity changes post-intervention after stroke. We found significantly increased regional centralities and nodal efficiency within the frontal pole and decreased degree centrality and nodal efficiency in the ipsilesional thalamus. Correlations were found between network measures and clinical assessments in the cuneus, postcentral gyrus, precentral gyrus, and putamen of the ipsilesional hemisphere. The contralesional areas such as the caudate, cerebellum, and frontal pole also showed significant correlations.

CONCLUSIONS: This study was helpful to expand the understanding of structural connectivity changes in both hemispheric networks during the motor recovery process following LF-rTMS and intensive OT after stroke.

PMID:34275914 | DOI:10.3233/RNN-211148

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