(HealthDay News) – Along with speech therapy, use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may improve language recovery following subacute ischemic stroke, according to a small study published online June 27 in Stroke.

Alexander Thiel, MD, from McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues randomized 24 patients with subacute post-stroke aphasia to either a 10-day protocol of 20-minute inhibitory 1 Hz rTMS over the right triangular part of the posterior inferior frontal gyrus or sham stimulation, followed by 45 minutes of speech and language therapy. O-15-water positron emission tomography was used during verb generation to assess activity in language networks before and after treatment. The Aachen Aphasia Test battery was used to measure language performance.

The researchers found that global Aachen Aphasia Test score change was significantly higher in the rTMS group. Subtest naming had the largest increases (P=0.002) and tended to be higher for comprehension, token test, and writing (P < 0.1). Compared to sham-treated patients, proportionally more voxels were activated in the left hemisphere of patients in the rTMS group after treatment than before (difference in activation volume index). Activation volume index change was significantly associated with global Aachen Aphasia Test score change.

“Ten sessions of inhibitory rTMS over the right posterior inferior frontal gyrus, in combination with speech and language therapy, significantly improve language recovery in subacute ischemic stroke and favor recruitment of left-hemispheric language networks,” the authors write.

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