Stimulating the brain to improve naming in aphasia: it works!

April 1, 2018

If you suffer from aphasia due to a stroke, know that you’re not alone. Aphasia is one of the most frequent complications following a stroke and has a significant impact on someone’s quality of life. The good news is that there might be a new and better treatment for it. Transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, is a treatment that has been gaining popularity in the field of stroke rehabilitation. This type of therapy uses electrical currents to change neurons by stimulating them via non-invasive electrodes on the scalp. Recently, researchers found that tDCS may be helpful in improving aphasia in stroke patients.

Study about aphasia

Researchers from France investigated tDCS and its effects on post-stroke aphasia. They reviewed seven studies that included a total of 68 patients. It appeared that patients suffering from aphasia improved their accuracy of naming objects in pictures after receiving tDCS. On average, those who underwent tDCS improved by 35%, while those who received a regular therapy only improved 25%. There are two types of tDCS. One is positive, where you increase the nerve cell activity with stimulation, and the other is negative, where you lower the activity inside the nerve cell. It appeared that type of tDCS mattered, with the positive type of stimulation being more effective.

Researchers also found that stimulating the left side of the brain appeared to be more effective than treating the right. Using positive stimulation tDCS on the left side of your brain can potentially be the best way to help you improve your ability to name objects.

No matter how bad the aphasia, tDCS did the job. There was a positive effect in all varying severities. On top of that, it didn’t matter whether the patient just recently had a stroke or had been suffering from aphasia for months. Timing after the stroke didn’t seem to matter – tDCS was for everyone!

If you’re someone who has aphasia, tDCS is something you might want to look into. The cost of tDCS can vary, so discuss it with your doctor and health insurance provider.

 

The lead author of this paper is Charlotte Rosso, from Sorbonne Universit´es, UPMC Univ Paris 06, Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle epini`ere, ICM, Paris, France

Editorial note:

tDCS is a relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated treatment that is now adding value to aphasia rehabilitation.

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