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Investigation of central motor pathways: magnetic brain stimulation 

Investigation of central motor pathways: magnetic brain stimulation

Chapter:
Investigation of central motor pathways: magnetic brain stimulation
Author(s):

K.R. Mills

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199204854.003.2434
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date: 28 April 2017

The ability to percutaneously stimulate the central nervous system of awake humans without causing pain has opened up new areas for neurophysiological investigation in the early diagnosis of neurological disease, also furthered the understanding of normal and abnormal motor control. Magnetic stimulators are now available that can excite both upper and lower limb areas of the motor cortex, as well as cranial nerves, motor roots, and deeply sited peripheral nerves.

Clinical applications—these include: (1) measurement of central motor conduction time—this is prolonged in most cases of multiple sclerosis, the threshold is usually raised in motor neuron disease, and the technique may be useful in cerebellar ataxia, including Friedrich’s ataxia; (2) assessment of completeness of spinal cord injury; and possibly (3) evaluation of neurodevelopmental delay in children with neurodegenerative and other related diseases. The technique can be used serially to monitor progress of disease or after neurological injury or to examine the effects of drugs, and it can be used safely in neonates and children.

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