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Motor cortex stimulation enhances motor recovery and reduces peri-infarct dysfunction following ischemic insult.

ABSTRACT

Recovery of motor function following stroke is believed to be supported, at least in part, by functional compensation involving residual neural tissue. The present study used a rodent model of focal ischemia and intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) to examine the behavioral and physiological effects of cortical stimulation in combination with motor rehabilitation. Adult rats were trained to criterion on a single pellet reaching task before ICMS was used to derive maps of movement representations within forelimb motor cortex contralateral to the trained paw. All animals then received a focal ischemic infarct within the motor map. A cortical surface electrode was implanted over the motor cortex. Low levels of electrical stimulation were applied during rehabilitative training on the same reaching task for 10 days and ICMS used to derive a second motor map. Results showed that both monopolar and bipolar cortical stimulation significantly enhanced motor recovery and increased the area of cortex from which microstimulation movements could be evoked. The results demonstrate the behavioral and neurophysiological benefits of cortical stimulation in combination with rehabilitation for recovery from stroke.