1999 Volume 189 Issue 3 Pages 203-211
We applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a therapeutic approach for patients with spinocerebellar degeneration (SCD). The subjects were four familial SCD patients (three men and one woman) aged from 27 to 76 years old. They were genetically analysed as two spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA 6), one SCA 1, and one SCA 7. The durations of their illness ranged from 1 to 7 years. Ten consective magnetic pulses were delivered over the scalp corresponding to the right cerebellar hemisphere, the middle of the cerebellum and the left cerebellar hemisphere, respectively, every day for 21 days. In all patients, the time and the number of steps required for a 10 m walk examination were significantly decreased after TMS trial compared with those before TMS. The number of feasible steps in tandem gait test increased. The total length of tracing body balance for 30 seconds measured by gravinometer was significantly decreased. However, nystagmus, dysarthria or incoordination of the upper limbs did not change after TMS trial. It is of interest that the blood flow of the cerebellar hemisphere, putamen and pons were significantly increased during the TMS trial. Although we do not know the exact mechanism by which TMS improved the ataxic gait, we speculate the increase of blood flow in the cerebellum, putamen and pons takes part in the improvement. These findings suggest that TMS over the cerebellum may be an effective therapy for patients with SCD.