Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging after Stroke
Stroke remains the most frequent cause of handicap in adult life and according to the WHO the second cause of death in the Western world. In the peracute phase, intravenous thrombolysis and in some cases endovascular therapy may induce early revascularization and hereby improve prognosis. However, only up to 20-25% of patients are eligible to causal treatment. Further, care in a specialized stroke unit improves prognosis in all patients independent of age and stroke severity. Even when it is not possible to prevent tissue loss, the surviving brain areas of functional brain networks have a substantial capacity to reorganize after a focal ischemic (or hemorrhagic) brain lesion. This functional reorganization contributes to functional recovery after stroke. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provides a valuable tool to capture the spatial and temporal activity changes in response to an acute ischemic lesion. Task-related as well as resting-state fMRI have been successfully applied to elucidate post-stroke remodeling of functional brain networks. This includes regional changes in neuronal activation as well as distributed changes in functional brain connectivity. Since fMRI is readily available and does not pose any adverse effects, repeated fMRI measurements provide unprecedented possibilities to prospectively assess the time course of reorganization in functional neural networks after stroke and relate the temporospatial dynamics of reorganization at the systems level to functional recovery. Here we review the current status and future perspectives of fMRI as a means of studying functional brain reorganization after stroke. We summarize (a) how fMRI has advanced our knowledge regarding the recovery mechanisms after stroke, and (b) how fMRI has been applied to document the effects of therapeutical interventions on post-stroke functional reorganization.
Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience, 2013, Vol 32, p. 9-25
Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review