Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation to Facilitate Lower Limb Recovery Following Stroke: Current Evidence and Future Directions
Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, Department of Biology, University of Wisconsin—La Crosse, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA
IIMPACT in Health, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(5), 310; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10050310
Received: 24 April 2020 / Revised: 19 May 2020 / Accepted: 19 May 2020 / Published: 21 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Clinical Neuroscience)
Stroke remains a global leading cause of disability. Novel treatment approaches are required to alleviate impairment and promote greater functional recovery. One potential candidate is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which is thought to non-invasively promote neuroplasticity within the human cortex by transiently altering the resting membrane potential of cortical neurons. To date, much work involving tDCS has focused on upper limb recovery following stroke. However, lower limb rehabilitation is important for regaining mobility, balance, and independence and could equally benefit from tDCS. The purpose of this review is to discuss tDCS as a technique to modulate brain activity and promote recovery of lower limb function following stroke. Preliminary evidence from both healthy adults and stroke survivors indicates that tDCS is a promising intervention to support recovery of lower limb function. Studies provide some indication of both behavioral and physiological changes in brain activity following tDCS. However, much work still remains to be performed to demonstrate the clinical potential of this neuromodulatory intervention. Future studies should consider treatment targets based on individual lesion characteristics, stage of recovery (acute vs. chronic), and residual white matter integrity while accounting for known determinants and biomarkers of tDCS response.