Cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3-tDCS): Rationale and protocol of a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study
Number of pages
SourceBMC Neurology, 19, (2019), article 149
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
PI Group Intention & Action
Subject111 000 Intention & Action; Action, intention, and motor control; Radboudumc 0: Other Research RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Background: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) is the most common subtype among the autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias, a group of neurodegenerative disorders for which currently no disease-specific therapy is available. Evidence-based options for symptomatic treatment of ataxia are also limited. Recent investigations in a heterogeneous group of hereditary and acquired ataxias showed promising, prolonged effects of a two-week course with daily sessions of cerebellar anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on ataxia severity, gait speed, and upper limb dexterity. The aim of the SCA3-tDCS study is to further examine whether tDCS improves ataxia severity and various (cerebellar) non-motor symptoms in a homogeneous cohort of SCA3 patients and to explore the time course of these effects. Methods/design: An investigator-initiated, double-blind, randomized, sham-controlled, single-center trial will be conducted. Twenty mildly to moderately affected SCA3 patients (Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia score between 3 and 20) will be included and randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to either cerebellar anodal tDCS or sham cerebellar tDCS. Patients, investigators, and outcome assessors are unaware of treatment allocation. Cerebellar tDCS (20 min, 2 mA, ramp-up and down periods of 30 s each) will be delivered over ten sessions, distributed in two groups of five consecutive days with a two-day break in between. Outcomes are assessed after a single session of tDCS, after the tenth stimulation (T1), and after three, six, and twelve months. The primary outcome measure is the absolute change of the SARA score between baseline and T1. In addition, effects on a variety of other motor and neuropsychological functions in which the cerebellum is known to be involved will be evaluated using quantitative motor tests, static posturography, neurophysiological measurements, cognitive assessment, and questionnaires. Discussion: The results of this study will inform us whether repeated sessions of cerebellar anodal tDCS benefit SCA3 patients and whether this form of non-invasive stimulation might be a novel therapeutic approach to consider in a neurorehabilitation setting. Combined with two earlier controlled trials, a positive effect of the SCA3-tDCS study will encourage implementation of this intervention and stimulate further research in other SCAs and heredodegenerative ataxias.
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