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Canadian Platform for Research in Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (CanStim)

Principal Investigator:
  • Alexander Thiel, Jewish General Hospital
Team Members:
  • Jodi Edwards, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • Numa Dancause, Université de Montréal
  • Stephen Scott, Queen's University
  • Douglas Cook, Queen's University
  • Lara Boyd, University of British Columbia
  • Sean Dukelow, University of Calgary
  • Catherine Mercier, Université Laval
  • Marc Roig Pull, McGill University
  • Joyce Fung, McGill University
  • Michelle Ploughman, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery (CPSR)

Project Overview

More Canadians are surviving stroke today than in previous years, but improved survival also means that more individuals are living with a disability due to stroke. Over 400,000 Canadians have a disability related to stroke. Rehabilitation after stroke is critical for regaining function and reducing the impact of disability on survivors. However, for many patients, standard rehabilitation sessions do not provide enough therapy to meaningfully reduce disability. New approaches to stroke rehabilitation that maximize improvement of function are needed to reduce disability in stroke survivors.

Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) are health technologies which aim to change the excitability of brain cells and augment the benefits of standard rehabilitation therapies. Although, at present, some techniques (like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, rTMS) show promise of becoming an effective additional rehabilitation option for stroke survivors, clinical trial data are needed to establish the effectiveness before it can be adopted into routine clinical use. To date, few stroke rehabilitation clinical trials have used rTMS due to: 1) a lack of consensus about the optimal rTMS parameters to use in stroke survivors; 2) the need for standardized protocols for the use of rTMS after stroke; and 3) the absence of a national platform to facilitate use of rTMS protocols in clinical trials for stroke rehabilitation, representing a major gap in the ability to provide TMS therapy to stroke survivors during stroke rehabilitation.

To address this gap, we created the Canadian Platform for Research in Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (CanStim). CanStim is a national network that aims to create the research capacity necessary for the initiation of multi-centre clinical trials in NIBS and to test new stimulation methods and protocols in pre-clinical animal models of stroke, to select the most efficient ones for testing in clinical trials thus accelerating the transition of NIBS into clinical practice.