Diffusion tensor and volumetric magnetic resonance imaging using an MR-compatible hand-induced robotic device suggests training-induced neuroplasticity in patients with chronic stroke

ASIMINA LAZARIDOU, LOUKAS ASTRAKAS, DIONYSSIOS MINTZOPOULOS, AZADEH KHANICHEH, ANEESH B. SINGHAL, MICHAEL A. MOSKOWITZ, BRUCE ROSEN, ARIA A. TZIKA
2013 International Journal of Molecular Medicine  
Stroke is the third leading cause of mortality and a frequent cause of long-term adult impairment. Improved strategies to enhance motor function in individuals with chronic disability from stroke are thus required. Post-stroke therapy may improve rehabilitation and reduce long-term disability; however, objective methods for evaluating the specific impact of rehabilitation are rare. Brain imaging studies on patients with chronic stroke have shown evidence for reorganization of areas showing
more » ... ional plasticity after a stroke. In this study, we hypothesized that brain mapping using a novel magnetic resonance (MR)-compatible hand device in conjunction with state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can serve as a novel biomarker for brain plasticity induced by rehabilitative motor training in patients with chronic stroke. This hypothesis is based on the premises that robotic devices, by stimulating brain plasticity, can assist in restoring movement compromised by stroke-induced pathological changes in the brain and that these changes can then be monitored by advanced MRI. We serially examined 15 healthy controls and 4 patients with chronic stroke. We employed a combination of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and volumetric MRI using a 3-tesla (3T) MRI system using a 12-channel Siemens Tim coil and a novel MR-compatible hand-induced robotic device. DTI data revealed that the number of fibers and the average tract length significantly increased after 8 weeks of hand training by 110% and 64%, respectively (p<0.001). New corticospinal tract (CST) fibers projecting progressively closer to the motor cortex appeared during training. Volumetric data analysis showed a statistically significant increase in the cortical thickness of the ventral postcentral gyrus areas of patients after training relative to pre-training cortical thickness (p<0.001). We suggest that rehabilitation is possible for a longer period of time after stroke than previously thought, showing that structural plasticity is possible even after 6 months due to retained neuroplasticity. Our study is an example of personalized medicine using advanced neuroimaging methods in conjunction with robotics in the molecular medicine era.
doi:10.3892/ijmm.2013.1476 pmid:23982596 pmcid:PMC3820572 fatcat:djgmuabbz5ejjdkwm6co3ndiqe