Stroke patients who had become partially paralyzed found their condition improving when they underwent a non-invasive method of brain stimulation, scientists claimed in their study.
Researchers from the Ain Shams University studied 60 patients with ischaemic stroke who had been left with mild to moderate muscle weakness down one side of their body.
Twenty of the randomly assigned treatment group received repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the brain hemisphere affected by the stroke and the other 20 received stimulation of the unaffected hemisphere.
The remaining 20 formed the control group, receiving inactive placebo doses of the treatment.
"When we compared the results between the three groups, we found that both of the treatment groups showed significant motor function recovery" said co-author Anwar El Etribi
"No improvements were seen in the control group who had received the placebo treatment and the same physical therapy protocol
"Our treatment worked on the theory that increasing the activity of the hemisphere affected by the stroke and reducing the activity of the unaffected hemisphere can reduce muscle weakness and improve overall motor function," he said.
Patients were clinically assessed at baseline and at two, four, eight and 12 weeks using a range of tools to determine motor function and cognitive status.
"Our study shows that using rTMS can help patients who have suffered an ischaemic stroke and are experiencing partial paralysis on one side of their body to regain motor function.
"We also found that the time interval from stroke to treatment did not have an effect on how well the patient recovered," said Etribi.
The findings appeared in the European Journal of Neurology.