Background: Recovery after arterial ischaemic stroke is known to largely depend on the plastic properties of the brain. The present study examines changes in the network topography of the developing brain after stroke. Effects of brain damage are best assessed by examining entire networks rather than single sites of structural lesions. Relating these changes to post-stroke neuropsychological variables and motor abilities will improve understanding of functional plasticity after stroke. Inclusion of healthy controls will provide additional insight into children's normal brain development. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging is a valid approach to topographically investigate the reorganisation of functional networks after a brain lesion. Transcranial magnetic stimulation provides complementary output information. Methods: The cross-sectional part of the study will investigate the functional cerebral networks of 35 children with chronic arterial ischaemic stroke (time of the lesion >2 years). In the longitudinal part, 15 children with acute arterial ischaemic stroke (shortly after the acute phase of the stroke) will be included and investigations will be performed 3 times within the subsequent 9 months. We will also recruit 50 healthy controls, matched for age and sex. The neuroimaging and neurophysiological data will be correlated with neuropsychological and neurological variables. Discussion: This study is the first to combine resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation in a paediatric population diagnosed with arterial ischaemic stroke. Thus, this study has the potential to uniquely contribute to the understanding of neuronal plasticity in the brains of healthy children and those with acute or chronic brain injury. It is expected that the results will lead to the development of optimal interventions after arterial ischaemic stroke.
Kornfeld, S., Rodríguez, J. A. D., Everts, R., Kaelin-Lang, A., Wiest, R., Weisstanner, C., … Grunt, S. (2015). Cortical reorganisation of cerebral networks after childhood stroke: Impact on outcome. BMC Neurology, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-015-0309-1