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Posted by on Feb 27, 2022 in Stroke | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study evaluated the effectiveness and safety of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for improving upper limb function in patients after ischemic stroke. The data showed that VNS was safe and improved upper limb function in these patients.

Some background

An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow through the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain become blocked. After a stroke, some nerves do not work as they should. This means that the muscles that those nerves stimulate do not work properly either. This leads to weakness in the arms or legs. 85% of ischemic stroke patients suffer from arm weakness. Rehabilitation is used on these muscles so that the nerves can learn to stimulate them again.

It has been suggested that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) may help this process by helping the nerves to work in a different way. VNS is a procedure in which a device is inserted into the upper chest to stimulate the vagus nerve in the neck. This signals the cells involved in the movement. Stimulating these cells could lead to changes in the brain that improve movement in the arms. However, the effectiveness and safety of VNS to improve upper limb function after ischemic stroke is still unclear.

Methods & findings

This study analyzed 6 other studies and involved 234 patients with upper limb disability after ischemic stroke. 114 patients were treated with VNS plus upper limb rehabilitation. 120 patients were treated with upper limb rehabilitation alone. Upper limb function was measured according to self-reported patient questionnaires.

Overall, VNS plus rehabilitation improved the upper limb function of patients compared to rehabilitation alone after ischemic stroke.

No significant differences in the number of side effects were found between the 2 groups.

The bottom line

This study concluded that VNS was safe and improved upper limb function in patients after ischemic stroke.

The fine print

The sample size was very small. The dose parameters such as stimulation intensity, frequency, and training duration of VNS were different for the included studies.

Published By :


Date :

Nov 19, 2021

Original Title :

Vagus nerve stimulation for upper limb motor impairment after ischemic stroke: A meta-analysis.

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