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Effects of intermittent theta burst stimulation on spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis


F. Mori, Clinica Neurologica, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università Tor Vergata, Viale Oxford 81, 00133 Rome, Italy (tel.: 0039 06 2090 3384; fax: 00 3906 2090 3119; e-mail:


Background and purpose:  Spasticity is a common disorder and a major cause of long-term disability in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Our aim was to evaluate whether a recently developed repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol, the intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) is effective in modulating lower limb spasticity in MS patients.

Methods:  Twenty MS patients were pseudorandomized to undergo a 2-week daily sessions of real or sham iTBS protocol. The H/M amplitude ratio of the Soleus H reflex, a reliable neurophysiological index of spinal excitability and the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS) for spasticity were evaluated by blinded raters before and after the stimulation protocols.

Results:  Patients receiving real iTBS showed a significant reduction of H/M amplitude ratio and MAS scores 1 week after the stimulation and persisting up to 2 weeks after the end of stimulation protocol. There were no significant effects for sham stimulation.

Conclusions:  These results show that iTBS, a safe, non-invasive, well-tolerated and feasible protocol, is a promising tool for the treatment of spasticity in MS.