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Reorganization of motor output in the non-affected hemisphere after stroke.

J Netz, T Lammers, V Hömberg
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/120.9.1579 1579-1586 First published online: 1 September 1997

Summary

Motor evoked responses to focal transcranial magnetic stimulation were investigated over the unaffected hemisphere in 15 patients with hemiparesis after ischaemic stroke and compared with data from normal control subjects. Whereas responses to muscles ipsilateral to the stimulated hemisphere could only be elicited at maximal intensities in two out of 12 normal control subjects, such ipsilateral responses were recorded after stimulation of the unaffected hemisphere in patients with poor recovery after stroke at significantly lower thresholds, but not in patients with good recovery. These responses occurred with a somewhat longer (on average 6 ms) latency than the typical contralateral response. The duration of the silent period ipsilateral to stimulation of the unaffected hemisphere was longer than in control subjects. Also the contralateral threshold for the unaffected hemisphere was elevated in comparison with the control group. In one patient, who developed mirror movements after stroke, the ipsilateral threshold was exceptionally low and the latency of the ipsilateral response identical to that seen contralaterally. It is concluded that the motor outputs in the unaffected hemisphere are significantly changed after stroke, including the unmasking of ipsilateral corticospinal projections. However, these pathways seem to be of little significance for recovery, as the existence of these responses was not correlated with clinical improvement. The unaffected hemisphere after stroke shows plastic changes in motor output organization after a contralateral lesion.