Study shows transcranial direct current stimulation may increase gait and the benefits of exercise

A study released in the journal Neurorehabilitation & Neural Repair found transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) effective for enhancing the benefits of physical exercise and the gait of patients suffering from the degenerative illness Parkinson’s disease.

The study involved 20 participants as part of randomized, double-blinded research conducted by experts at São Paulo State University in Brazil.

During the study, the participants were instructed to complete two 30-minute sessions of physical exercise spanning one week apart, along with tDCS.

The cognitive functions and activity of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) were assessed before and after the exercise sessions.

“We investigated the effects of adding anodal tDCS applied over the PFC to a session of aerobic exercise on gait, cognition, and PFC activity while walking in people with Parkinson’s disease,” according to researchers.

“Compared with the pre-assessment, participants decreased step time variability, shortened simple and choice reaction times, and increased PFC activity in the stimulated hemisphere while walking only after aerobic exercise + active-tDCS,” researchers found.

“The addition of anodal tDCS over the PFC to a session of aerobic exercise led to immediate positive effects on gait variability, processing speed, and executive control of walking in people with Parkinson’s disease.”

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