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eISSN: 1643-3750

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Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Language Following Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy Primed with Intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation in 13 Patients with Post-Stroke Aphasia

Jane B. Allendorfer, Rodolphe Nenert, Sangeeta Nair, Jennifer Vannest, Jerzy P. Szaflarski

(Department of Neurology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA)

Med Sci Monit 2021; 27:e930100

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.930100


BACKGROUND: Aphasia is a debilitating consequence of stroke. This study aimed to investigate the role of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation changes during overt language tasks in promoting language improvements following constraint-induced aphasia therapy (CIAT) primed with intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) in 13 patients with aphasia following ischemic stroke.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Participants with post-stroke aphasia participated in CIAT primed with iTBS on 10 consecutive weekdays. They also underwent language testing and fMRI while performing overt language tasks at baseline (N=13), immediately post-treatment (N=13), and after 3 months (N=12). Outcome measures were compared between time points, and relationships between changes in language ability and fMRI activation were examined.
RESULTS: We observed improvements in naming (p<0.001), aphasia symptoms (p=0.038), apraxia of speech symptoms (p=0.040), perception of everyday communicative ability (p=0.001), and the number of spoken words produced during fMRI (p=0.028). Pre- to post-treatment change in naming was negatively correlated with change in right postcentral gyrus activation related to noun-verb associations (rho=-0.554, p=0.0497). Change in aphasia symptoms from immediately after to 3 months post-treatment was negatively correlated with change in bilateral supplementary motor area activation related to verbal encoding (rho=-0.790, p=0.0022).
CONCLUSIONS: Aphasia improvements coupled with fMRI activation changes over time provide support for treatment-induced neuroplasticity with CIAT primed with iTBS. However, a larger randomized sham-controlled study is warranted to confirm our findings and further our understanding of how iTBS can potentiate beneficial effects of language therapy in post-stroke aphasia.

This paper has been published under Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) allowing to download articles and share them with others as long as they credit the authors and the publisher, but without permission to change them in any way or use them commercially.
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