WEDNESDAY, Feb. 7, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Improvements in arm and hand function with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) in combination with rehabilitation are maintained at one-year follow-up in stroke survivors, according to a study presented at the annual American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference, held from Feb. 7 to 9 in Phoenix.
Teresa J. Kimberley, Ph.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues present one-year outcomes from the VNS-REHAB pivotal trial, in which stroke patients with moderate-to-severe upper-extremity impairment were randomly assigned to task-specific rehabilitation plus either active VNS (53 individuals) or sham VNS (55 individuals).
The researchers found that at one year, both Fugl-Meyer Assessment-Upper Extremity (FMA-UE) and Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) scores improved from pretherapy baseline (5.3 and 0.51 points, respectively). However, at one year, FMA-UE change was not significantly different from the three-month timepoint or three months following crossover for controls. WMFT did show continued improvement (an additional 0.09 points), indicating that participants either improved or maintained motor gains through one year.
"This is the first time that brain stimulation combined with rehabilitation therapy for stroke is available outside of a clinical trial. It could set the stage for even more advancements in recovery from other impairments beyond the arm," Kimberley said in a statement. "This is a watershed moment for rehabilitation science."
Several authors disclosed ties to the biotechnology industry.