The federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq announced the funding of Dr. Boyd’s project, ”Interhemispheric contributions to neuroplasticity and motor learning after stroke”, at an event held in Ottawa on Monday, November 15. Link to CIHR
Past research by Dr. Boyd has revealed that pairing brain stimulation with exercises that require patients to learn new movements may help the brain to learn. As it is hard to use brain stimulation near stroke-damaged area of the brain, an alternative approach is to reduce the excitability in the non-stroke side of the brain. Using stimulation that reduces activity in the side opposite to the stroke can increase activity on the stroke-affected side, through connections between the two brain hemispheres. The purpose of this study is to test if brain stimulation on the side opposite to the stroke, paired with arm movement exercises, can help patients learn new arm movements and improve arm function.
In this study people with stroke will receive brain stimulation over two different areas on the side of the brain opposite to the stroke: 1) those areas responsible for movement and 2) those responsible for sensation. These experiments will test both the short and long term effects of brain stimulation on patients’ learning and arm function and will allow us to identify which area of the brain best improves learning and arm function. These experiments have the potential to improve the effectiveness of rehabilitation after stroke. The proposed study is among the first to test stimulation over the side of the brain opposite to the stroke damage and at multiple sites. This unique approach may help stimulate the development of new methods for stroke rehabilitation.