High-Intensity Chronic Stroke Motor Imagery Neurofeedback Training at Home: Three Case Reports
Zich C., Debener SD., Schweinitz CS., Sterr AS., Meekes JM., Kranczioch CK.
Motor imagery (MI) with neurofeedback has been suggested as promising for motor recovery after stroke. Evidence suggests that regular training facilitates compensatory plasticity, but frequent training is difficult to integrate into everyday life. Using a wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) system, we implemented a frequent and efficient neurofeedback training at the patients’ home. Aiming to overcome maladaptive changes in cortical lateralization patterns we presented a visual feedback, representing the degree of contralateral sensorimotor cortical activity and the degree of sensorimotor cortex lateralization. Three stroke patients practiced every other day, over a period of 4 weeks. Training-related changes were evaluated on behavioral, functional, and structural levels. All 3 patients indicated that they enjoyed the training and were highly motivated throughout the entire training regime. EEG activity induced by MI of the affected hand became more lateralized over the course of training in all three patients. The patient with a significant functional change also showed increased white matter integrity as revealed by diffusion tensor imaging, and a substantial clinical improvement of upper limb motor functions. Our study provides evidence that regular, home-based practice of MI neurofeedback has the potential to facilitate cortical reorganization and may also increase associated improvements of upper limb motor function in chronic stroke patients.