Background: High-definition transcranial electrical theta burst superimposing direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS-eTBS) not only incorporates the therapeutic advantages of tDCS and TBS but enhances stimulation focality and practicality. However, the applicability of this innovative neuromodulatory device in post-stroke rehabilitation remains uncertain. Objective: This study aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of the HD-tDCS-eTBS on upper extremity (UE) motor function in patients with chronic stroke. Methods: A patient-blinded, randomized controlled study was conducted. Twenty-four participants were randomly assigned into either the active HD-tDCS-eTBS group or sham HD-tDCS-eTBS group. Both groups received 20 minutes of active/sham HD-tDCS-eTBS combined with 30 minutes of conventional UE rehabilitation each time, 3 times a week for 4 weeks. Outcome measures including the Fugl-Meyer Assessment of Upper Extremity, Wolf Motor Function Test, Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test, Finger-Nose Test, and Modified Ashworth Scale were assessed before and immediately after the intervention period. Results: Spasticity of shoulder adductor (P =.05), elbow extensor (P =.04), and thumb flexor (P <.01) were significantly reduced in the active HD-tDCS-eTBS group versus the sham group. Nonsignificant trends in the improvements of most other outcome measures were in favor of the active HD-tDCS-eTBS group with moderate to large effect sizes (P =.06–.26, ηp2 = 0.06–0.16). No severe adverse events except for slight skin redness under the stimulus electrode was detected after the HD-tDCS-eTBS. Conclusions: Our findings support that HD-tDCS-eTBS is safe and has therapeutic potential for post-stroke UE motor rehabilitation. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (ID: NCT04278105).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-654
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • direct current
  • high-definition transcranial electrical stimulation
  • non-invasive brain stimulation
  • stroke
  • theta burst stimulation
  • upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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