Transcranial direct current stimulation in neglect rehabilitation after stroke: a systematic review.
Abstract: Hemispatial neglect is one of the most frequent attention disorders after stroke. The presence of neglect is associated with longer hospital stays, extended rehabilitation periods, and poorer functional recovery. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a new technique with promising results in neglect rehabilitation; therefore, the objective of this systematic review, performed following the PRISMA guidelines, is to evaluate the effectiveness of tDCS on neglect recovery after stroke. The search was done in MEDLINE (PubMed), Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and BioMed Central databases. A total of 311 articles were found; only 11 met the inclusion criteria, including 152 post-stroke patients in total. Methodological quality and risk of bias were assessed for all the studies, and methodological characteristics of the studies, sample sizes, methods, main results, and other relevant data were extracted. tDCS intervention ranged from one to twenty sessions distributed in 1 day to 4 weeks, with intensity ranged from 1 to 2 mA. We found moderate evidence for the efficacy of tDCS in the rehabilitation of hemispatial neglect after a stroke, being more effective in combination with other interventions. Nonetheless, the limited number of studies and some studies' design characteristics makes it risky to draw categorical conclusions. Since scientific evidence is still scarce, further research is needed to determine the advantage of this treatment in acute, sub-acute and chronic stroke patients. Future studies should include larger samples, longer follow-ups, and broader neurophysiological assessments, with the final aim of establishing the appropriate use of tDCS as an adjuvant intervention in neurorehabilitation settings.
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