OBJECTIVES: To investigate motor disinhibition in affected and unaffected motor areas in the acute stage after stroke and during the early period of recovery. METHODS: Fifteen patients with moderate to severe hemiparesis after acute unilateral stroke were compared with 10 healthy age-matched controls. We used paired transcranial magnetic stimulation to study intracortical inhibition and facilitation from the thenar eminence muscles on both sides. F-wave from the median nerve on both sides were recorded. The recordings were performed 5-7 days (T1) and 30 days after stroke. RESULTS: In 10 patients who showed the presence of reliable motor evoked potentials on the affected side, intracortical inhibition was significantly reduced. On the unaffected side intracortical inhibition (ICI) was significantly reduced in all patients. Patients who presented significant motor recovery after 30 days showed persistence of abnormal disinhibition in the affected hemisphere but a return to normal ICI in the unaffected hemisphere. Patients with poor motor recovery showed persistence of abnormal disinhibition on both sides. No significant changes were observed in F-wave amplitude. CONCLUSIONS: Motor disinhibition occurs on both sides after stroke in all acute stage patients. Changes in motor disinhibition on unaffected side also are related to motor recovery.
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