Intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) for treatment of chronic post-stroke aphasia: Results of a Pilot randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial

Academic Article


  • Background: Research indicates intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) is a potential treatment of post-stroke aphasia. Material/Methods: In this double-blind, sham-controlled trial (NCT 01512264) participants were randomized to receive 3 weeks of sham (G0), 1 week of iTBS/2 weeks of sham (G1), 2 weeks of iTBS/1 week of sham (G2), or 3 weeks of iTBS (G3). FMRI localized residual language function in the left hemisphere; iTBS was applied to the maximum fMRI activation in the residual language cortex in the left frontal lobe. FMRI and aphasia testing were conducted pretreatment, at £1 week after completing treatment, and at 3 months follow-up. Results: 27/36 participants completed the trial. We compared G0 to each of the individual treatment group and to all iTBS treatment groups combined (G1-3). In individual groups, participants gained (of moderate or large effect sizes; some significant at P<0.05) on the Boston Naming Test (BNT), the Semantic Fluency Test (SFT), and the Aphasia Quotient of the Western Aphasia Battery-Revised (WAB-R AQ). In G1-3, BNT, and SFT improved immediately after treatment, while the WAB-R AQ improved at 3 months. Compared to G0, the other groups showed greater fMRI activation in both hemispheres and non-significant increases in language lateralization to the left hemisphere. Changes in IFG connectivity were noted with iTBS, showing differences between time-points, with some of them correlating with the behavioral measures. Conclusions: The results of this pilot trial support the hypothesis that iTBS applied to the ipsilesional hemisphere can improve aphasia and result in cortical plasticity.
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    Author List

  • Szaflarski JP; Nenert R; Allendorfer JB; Martin AN; Amara AW; Griffis JC; Dietz A; Mark VW; Sung VW; Walker HC
  • Volume

  • 27