Can non-invasive brain stimulation improve function after amputation?

The purpose of this study is to highlight the potential of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to improve functional outcomes for lower limb amputees through a literature review.

Imaging, brain stimulation and behavioural evidence indicate that the cortex contributes to locomotion in humans. Following amputation both hemispheres reorganise with evidence suggesting brain reorganisation is related to functional outcomes in amputees. Previous studies indicate that brain stimulation techniques can be used to selectively promote neuroplasticity of lower limb cortical representations with improvements in function.

The study reviews the literature demonstrating the application of NIBS to lower limb muscle representations and evidence supportive of subsequent functional improvements. It found that brain re-organisation following amputation has been related to functional outcomes and may be an appropriate target for novel interventions.

The authors conclude that non-invasive brain stimulation is a promising tool which has potential to improve functional outcomes for lower limb amputees. They further suggest that NIBS has the potential to transform lower limb amputee rehabilitation and should be further investigated.