Current perspectives on the benefits, risks and limitations of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) for post-stroke dysphagia

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Introduction: Studies have shown that non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS), including repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), can promote neuroplasticity, which is considered important for functional recovery of swallowing after stroke. Despite extensive studies on NIBS, there remains a gap between research and clinical practice.
Areas covered: In this article, we update the current knowledge on the benefits and challenges of rTMS and tDCS for post-stroke dysphagia. We identify some key limitations of these techniques that hinder the translation from clinical trials to routine practice. Finally, we discuss the future of NIBS as a treatment for post-stroke dysphagia in real-world settings.
Expert opinion: Current evidence suggests that rTMS and tDCS show promise as a treatment for post-stroke dysphagia. However, these techniques are limited by the response variability, uncertainty on the safety in patients with comorbidities and difficulties in clinical study designs. Such limitations call for further work to enhance their utility through individualised approaches. Despite this, the last decade has seen a growing acceptance towards these techniques among clinical personnel. As such, we advocate caution but support optimism that NIBS will gradually be recognised as a mainstream treatment approach for post-stroke dysphagia in the future.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Early online date17 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Sep 2021