Near-infrared Spectroscopy–mediated Neurofeedback Enhances Efficacy of Motor Imagery–based Training in Poststroke Victims
A Pilot Study
Background and Purpose—Despite the findings that motor imagery and execution are supposed to share common neural networks, previous studies using imagery-based rehabilitation have revealed inconsistent results. In the present study, we investigated whether feedback of cortical activities (neurofeedback) using near-infrared spectroscopy could enhance the efficacy of imagery-based rehabilitation in stroke patients.
Methods—Twenty hemiplegic patients with subcortical stroke received 6 sessions of mental practice with motor imagery of the distal upper limb in addition to standard rehabilitation. Subjects were randomly allocated to REAL and SHAM groups. In the REAL group, cortical hemoglobin signals detected by near-infrared spectroscopy were fed back during imagery. In the SHAM group, irrelevant randomized signals were fed back. Upper limb function was assessed using the finger and arm subscales of the Fugl-Meyer assessment and the Action Research Arm Test.
Results—The hand/finger subscale of the Fugl-Meyer assessment showed greater functional gain in the REAL group, with a significant interaction between time and group (F2,36=15.5; P<0.001). A significant effect of neurofeedback was revealed even in severely impaired subjects. Imagery-related cortical activation in the premotor area was significantly greater in the REAL group than in the SHAM group (T58=2.4; P<0.05).
Conclusions—Our results suggest that near-infrared spectroscopy–mediated neurofeedback may enhance the efficacy of mental practice with motor imagery and augment motor recovery in poststroke patients with severe hemiparesis.
- Received August 21, 2012.
- Accepted December 19, 2012.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.