Effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on post-stroke dysphagia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Pisegna JM, Kaneoka A, Pearson WG Jr, Kumar S, Langmore SE.

Clin Neurophysiol. 2015 May 9. pii: S1388-2457(15)00309-0. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2015.04.069.




The primary aim of this review is to evaluate the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on post-stroke dysphagia.


Thirteen databases were systematically searched through July 2014. Studies had to meet pre-specified inclusion and exclusion criteria. Each study’s methodological quality was examined. Effect sizes were calculated from extracted data and combined for an overall summary statistic.


Eight randomized controlled trials were included. These trials revealed a significant, moderate pooled effect size (0.55; 95% CI=0.17, 0.93; p=0.004). Studies stimulating the affected hemisphere had a combined effect size of 0.33 (95% CI=-0.52, 1.18; p=0.44), while studies stimulating the unaffected had a much larger, significant pooled effect size (0.70; 95% CI=0.25, 1.15; p=0.002). At long-term follow up, three studies demonstrated a large but non-significant pooled effect size (0.81, p=0.11).


This review found evidence for the efficacy of non-invasive brain stimulation on post-stroke dysphagia. A greater effect size resulted when stimulating the unaffected rather than the affected hemisphere. This finding is in agreement with previous studies implicating the plasticity of cortical neurons in the unaffected hemisphere.


Non-invasive brain stimulation appears to assist cortical reorganization in post-stroke dysphagia but emerging factors highlight the need for more data.


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