To determine whether cumulative anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (A-tDCS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) could enhance rehabilitation of memory and attention in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Inpatient and outpatient neurorehabilitation unit.
Twenty-three adult patients, 4- to 92- months post severe TBI.
Participants were randomly allocated to 2 groups. The experimental group received A-tDCS (10 minutes; 1 mA; in the DLPFC), followed by rehabilitative cognitive training, daily for 15 days. Controls received A-tDCS for 25 seconds (sham condition) with the same rehabilitation.
Battery of memory and attention tests, which included visual and auditory modalities. Participants were tested twice before beginning rehabilitation (to control for spontaneous recovery), after rehabilitation completion, and 4 months later.
Tests scores in both groups were similar at 3 weeks before and immediately before treatment. After treatment, the experimental group exhibited larger effect sizes in 6 of 8 cognitive outcome measures, but they were not significantly different from controls. At follow-up, differences remained insignificant.
In contrast to previous studies, our study did not provide sufficient evidence to support the efficacy of repeated A-tDCS for enhancing rehabilitation of memory and attention in patients after severe TBI.