tDCS improves dual-task gait performance

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Transcranial direct current stimulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex improves dual-task gait performance in patients with Parkinson’s disease: A double blind, sham-controlled study.

BACKGROUND: Despite advances in pharmacological treatments and surgical processes, the problem of impaired dual-tasking persists in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Recently, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has shown the potential to improve dual-task walking.
RESEARCH QUESTION: Can combining left DLPFC stimulation using tDCS with dual-task performance reduce the cost of dual-tasking in individuals with PD?
METHODS: We conducted a sham-controlled, cross-over, and double-blind study to investigate the effect of combining tDCS with the dual-task walk and its sustained effects among people with PD. Twenty participants with PD completed two sessions (anodal or sham tDCS) with at least a 1-week gap. Stimulation involved transferring 2 mA current through the left DLPFC for 30 min. Single- and dual-task gait was assessed before, during, immediately after, 15, and 30 min after stimulation ceased. Phoneme verbal fluency task was given as the cognitive distractor during dual task.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: The results of this study show that in the dual-task condition, participants walked faster at fifteen minutes (p = 0.017) and thirty minutes (p < 0.01) after anodal tDCS ceased compared to sham. Similarly, participants generated a higher number of words per minute at fifteen minutes (p = 0.017), and thirty minutes (p < 0.01) after anodal tDCS ceased compared to sham. Furthermore, the dual-task cost (DTC) associated with gait speed was significantly lower (p = 0.022) at fifteen minutes after anodal tDCS compared to sham tDCS. However, no significant effect of tDCS was observed on gait and cognitive performance under the single-task condition. In conclusion, left DLPFC stimulation can improve dual-tasking in participants with PD and the peaking of the tDCS effect was observed at fifteen minutes after stimulation ceased.

PMID: 33260076 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Gait Posture. 2020 Nov 16;84:11-16

Authors: Mishra RK, Thrasher AT