Facilitating Gait Recovery with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Chronic Stroke:A Feasibility Study
Lumy Sawaki, MD, PhD, University of Kentucky, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Department, Cardinal Hill Endowed Chair

Objectives: The purpose of this pilot project is to gather sufficient data to allow clarification of methodological issues prior to designing a full-scale, federally-funded clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of tDCS to optimize gait rehabilitation after stroke. Our specific aims include the following:    

1) Determine the effect size of tDCS paired with Lokomat training on lower extremity motor function in chronic stroke patients with low ambulatory status; and

2) Determine the effects of tDCS paired with Lokomat training on cortical excitability in chronic stroke patients with low ambulatory status. Our central hypothesis is that application of tDCS to the cerebral cortex area that controls the lower extremity, in combination with robot-assisted treadmill training called Lokomat, will improve gait more than treadmill training alone in chronic stroke subjects with low ambulatory status.

The long-range goals include

(a) maximizing the restoration of lower extremity motor function in stroke patients with low ambulatory status,
(b) determining the impact on activities of daily living and quality of life,
(c) collecting solid preliminary data for future submission of an NIH R01 proposal, and (d) determining the impact on decreasing sedentary life and improving cardiovascular fitness.

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