Objective: To investigate the efficacy and effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on motor imagery brain-computer interface (MI-BCI) with robotic feedback for stroke rehabilitation. Design: A sham-controlled, randomized controlled trial. Setting: Patients recruited through a hospital stroke rehabilitation program. Participants: Subjects (NZ19) who incurred a stroke 0.8 to 4.3 years prior, with moderate to severe upper extremity functional impairment, and passed BCI screening. Interventions: Ten sessions of 20 minutes of tDCS or sham before 1 hour of MI-BCI with robotic feedback upper limb stroke rehabilitation for 2
weeks. Each rehabilitation session comprised 8 minutes of evaluation and 1 hour of therapy.
Main Outcome Measures: Upper extremity Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment (FMMA) scores measured end-intervention at week 2 and follow-up at week 4, online BCI accuracies from the evaluation part, and laterality coefficients of the electroencephalogram (EEG) from the therapy part of the 10 rehabilitation sessions.
Results: FMMA score improved in both groups at week 4, but no intergroup differences were found at any time points. Online accuracies of the evaluation part from the tDCS group were significantly higher than those from the sham group. The EEG laterality coefficients from the therapy part of the tDCS group were significantly higher than those of the sham group. Conclusions: The results suggest a role for tDCS in facilitating motor imagery in stroke.