Author(s): Seitz RJ
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Recovery from hemiparesis after stroke has been shown to involve reorganization in motor and premotor cortical areas. However, whether poststroke recovery also depends on changes in remote brain structures, ie, diaschisis, is as yet unresolved. To address this question, we studied regional cerebral blood flow in 7 patients (mean+/-SD age, 54+/-8 years) after their first hemiparetic stroke.
METHODS: We analyzed imaging data voxel by voxel using a principal component analysis by which coherent changes in functional networks could be disclosed. Performance was assessed by a motor score and by the finger movement rate during the regional cerebral blood flow measurements.
RESULTS: The patients had recovered (P<0. 001) from severe hemiparesis after on average 6 months and were able to perform sequential finger movements with the recovered hand. Regional cerebral blood flow at rest differentiated patients and controls (P<0.05) by a network that was affected by the stroke lesion. During blindfolded performance of sequential finger movements, patients were differentiated from controls (P<0.05) by a recovery-related network and a movement-control network. These networks were spatially incongruent, involving motor, sensory, and visual cortex of both cerebral hemispheres, the basal ganglia, thalamus, and cerebellum. The lesion-affected and recovery-related networks overlapped in the contralesional thalamus and extrastriate occipital cortex.
CONCLUSIONS: Motor recovery after hemiparetic brain infarction is subserved by brain structures in locations remote from the stroke lesion. The topographic overlap of the lesion-affected and recovery-related networks suggests that diaschisis may play a critical role in stroke recovery.