Functional MRI and motor behavioral changes obtained with constraint-induced movement therapy in chronic stroke

European Journal of Neurology, 05/04/2012

Alterations in sensorimotor cortical activations (fMRI) and corticospinal conductivity (TMS) were observed after intensive rehabilitation in patients with chronic stroke. Activation and functional changes in fMRI and TMS correlated significantly with the degree of clinical improvement in hand motor behavior. The present data advance the understanding of the functional underpinnings of motor recovery, which may be obtained even years after the stroke.


  • Eleven patients (37.6 ± 36.8 months from stroke) were studied by functional MRI (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and behavioral assessment of hand motor control (Wolf Motor Function Test) before and after 2 weeks of CIMT.
  • Individual and group–level changes in imaging and behavioral parameters were investigated.


  • Increase in fMRI activation in the sensorimotor areas was greater amongst those subjects who had poor hand motor behavior before therapy and/or whose motor behavior improved notably because of therapy than amongst subjects with relatively good motor behavior already before therapy.
  • The magnitude of CIMT–induced changes in task–related fMRI activation differed between lesioned and non–lesioned hemispheres, and the fMRI laterality index was different for paretic and non–paretic hand tasks.
  • The corticospinal conduction time in TMS was significantly decreased after CIM therapy.

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