Updates on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation in physical and rehabilitation medicine
Julie A. Williams, Marta Imamura, Felipe Fregni
Brain stimulation for the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases has been used for more than 50 years. Although its development has been slow, current advances in the techniques of brain stimulation have improved its clinical efficacy. The use of non-invasive brain stimulation has significant advantages, such as not involving surgical procedures and having relatively mild adverse effects. In this paper we briefly review the use of 2 non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), as therapeutic approaches in physical and rehabilitation medicine. We also compare the effects of non-invasive central nervous system stimulation with techniques of non-invasive peripheral electrical stimulation, in order to provide new insights for future developments. Although the outcomes of these initial trials include some conflicting results, the evidence supports that rTMS and tDCS might have a therapeutic value in different neurological conditions. Studies published within the last year have examined new approaches of stimulation, such as longer intensities of stimulation, new electrode sizes for tDCS, novel coils for stimulation of deeper areas, and new frequencies of stimulation for rTMS. These new approaches need to be tested in larger clinical trials in order to determine whether they offer significant clinical effects.
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