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Open AccessArticle

Acute Effects of High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Foot Muscle Strength, Passive Ankle Kinesthesia, and Static Balance: A Pilot Study

1
School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai 200438, China
2
The Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA
3
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02131, USA
4
Key Laboratory of Exercise and Health Sciences of Ministry of Education, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai 200438, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040246
Received: 20 March 2020 / Revised: 18 April 2020 / Accepted: 19 April 2020 / Published: 21 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
This study aimed to examine the effects of single-session anodal high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) on the strength of intrinsic foot muscles, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance. Methods: In this double-blinded self-controlled study, 14 healthy younger adults were asked to complete assessments of foot muscle strength, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance before and after a 20-minute session of either HD-tDCS or sham stimulation (i.e., control) at two visits separated by one week. Two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to examine the effects of HD-tDCS on metatarsophalangeal joint flexor strength, toe flexor strength, the passive kinesthesia threshold of ankle joint, and the average sway velocity of the center of gravity. Results: All participants completed all study procedures and no side effects nor risk events were reported. Blinding was shown to be successful, with an overall accuracy of 35.7% in the guess of stimulation type (p = 0.347). No main effects of intervention, time, or their interaction were observed for foot muscle strength (p > 0.05). The average percent change in first-toe flexor strength following anodal HD-tDCS was 12.8 ± 24.2%, with 11 out of 14 participants showing an increase in strength, while the change following sham stimulation was 0.7 ± 17.3%, with 8 out of 14 participants showing an increase in strength. A main effect of time on the passive kinesthesia threshold of ankle inversion, dorsiflexion, and anteroposterior and medial–lateral average sway velocity of the center of gravity in one-leg standing with eyes closed was observed; these outcomes were reduced from pre to post stimulation (p < 0.05). No significant differences were observed for other variables between the two stimulation types. Conclusion: The results of this pilot study suggested that single-session HD-tDCS may improve the flexor strength of the first toe, although no statistically significant differences were observed between the anodal HD-tDCS and sham procedure groups. Additionally, passive ankle kinesthesia and static standing balance performance were improved from pre to post stimulation, but no significant differences were observed between the HD-tDCS and sham procedure groups. This may be potentially due to ceiling effects in this healthy cohort of a small sample size. Nevertheless, these preliminary findings may provide critical knowledge of optimal stimulation parameters, effect size, and power estimation of HD-tDCS for future trials aiming to confirm and expand the findings of this pilot study. View Full-Text
Keywords: high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS); foot muscle strength; passive ankle kinesthesia; static balance high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS); foot muscle strength; passive ankle kinesthesia; static balance
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Xiao, S.; Wang, B.; Zhang, X.; Zhou, J.; Fu, W. Acute Effects of High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Foot Muscle Strength, Passive Ankle Kinesthesia, and Static Balance: A Pilot Study. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 246.

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