Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), combined with hand therapy, is currently a research-based treatment. It is intended to help people with stroke achieve greater recovery of hand function. 

Specialties related to this treatment:

Expand Content
The hand weakness following a stroke stems from brain neurons destroyed by the stroke, as well as from surviving neurons. The surviving neurons become dormant (not active) through inactivity and suppression from the non-stroke hemisphere. In some patients, rTMS can help dormant neurons reactivate and thereby improve voluntary hand function.

Our Approach

Unlike deep brain stimulation, rTMS is noninvasive and does not involve surgery. The patient receives painless magnetic pulses to the head through a device held by the clinician. Patients perform hand exercises while the effects of the magnetic stimulation are active.

Although the magnetic energy can be used to produce involuntary muscle contractions, rTMS uses repeated, low-intensity magnetic pulses to change brain synapses (pathways) so that people can more easily produce muscle contractions on their own. To help the effects of rTMS to last longer, it is important for people to use their weak hand in challenging tasks immediately after the treatment.

Our hand therapy uses a computer program that allows patients to move their hand to guide the virtual hand on the screen to make the same move. A variety of tasks can be created, like picking petals from a flower or stacking blocks. To make the effects permanent, people are urged to use their stroke hand diligently in all daily activities.

Conditions We Treat

The rTMS that we provide is mainly for people who have some hand function problems following a stroke. Those with some voluntary finger motion are more likely to benefit than those who do not have any finger motion. rTMS combined with hand therapy is a specialty service in stroke rehabilitation that has undergone much research. It shows it can help some people with stroke but not all. Some may therefore receive no benefit.

Locations that offer this treatment

Call your preferred location to schedule an appointment or submit an online request.