Indexed on: 29 Jan '16Published on: 29 Jan '16Published in: Neuroradiology
It has been demonstrated that rehabilitative interventions can promote motor function recovery in stroke patients. However, little is known regarding the neural mechanisms that underlie the rehabilitation treatments. The aim of this study was to investigate the plasticity of intrinsic functional connectivity patterns that are associated with rehabilitation intervention in chronic stroke patients.Twelve chronic stroke patients with subcortical lesions in the left motor pathway participated in a 4-week rehabilitation intervention and underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning before and after the intervention. Both functional connectivity analyses of the ipsilesional (left) primary motor cortex (M1) and measurements of the lateralization index of the connectivity patterns were performed in both the stroke patients and healthy controls (HC).Compared with the HC, the decreased connectivity of the ipsilesional M1 with the contralesional sensorimotor cortex (SMC), bilateral supplementary motor areas, and inferior parietal lobule due to stroke were remarkably restored after the intervention. More specifically, the lateralization index of the bilateral SMC tends to be the normal level. Moreover, comparing post- with pre-intervention, we observed significantly increased connectivity of ipsilesional M1 with the contralesional M1 and medial superior frontal gyrus (mSFG). Additionally, the index of pre-intervention connectivity with the contralesional mSFG was positively correlated with motor improvement.The impact of rehabilitation intervention on intrinsic functional connectivity patterns throughout the brain was measurable on resting-state fMRI, and systematic assessment of resting-state functional connectivity can provide prognostic insight for later motor improvement.