Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive brain stimulation to modulate cortical activity for improving motor function. However, the different tDCS applications for modulating cortical activity and dual task gait performance in chronic stroke have not yet been investigated. This study investigated the effects of different tDCS applications on dual task gait performance and contralesional M1 activation in chronic stroke. Methods: Forty-eight participants were randomized to anodal, bilateral, cathodal, and sham tDCS groups. Each group received 20 min of tDCS stimulation, except the sham group. Gait performance was measured by GaitRite system during cognitive dual task (CDT) walking, motor dual task (MDT) walking, and single walking (SW). Contralesional M1 activity of unaffected tibialis anterior (TA) was measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Intragroup difference was analyzed by Wilconxon sign ranks test with Bonferroni correction, and Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of variance by ranks was used for intergroup comparisons, followed by post-hoc Mann–Whitney U tests with Bonferroni correction. Results: The bilateral tDCS (p = 0.017) and cathodal tDCS (p = 0.010) improved the CDT walking speed more than sham group. The bilateral tDCS (p = 0.048) and cathodal tDCS (p = 0.048) also improved the MDT walking speed more than sham group. Furthermore, bilateral tDCS (p = 0.012) and cathodal tDCS (p = 0.040) increased the silent period (SP) more than the anodal and sham group. Thus, one-session of bilateral and cathodal tDCS improved dual task walking performance paralleled with increasing contralesional corticomotor inhibition in chronic stroke. Conclusions: Our results indicate that one-session of bilateral and cathodal tDCS increased contralesional corticomotor inhibition and improved dual task gait performance in chronic stroke. Trial registration: Thai Clinical Trials Registry (TCTR20180116001). Registered prospectively on 16th Jan, 2018 at http://www.thaiclinicaltrials.org.
- Chronic stroke
- Contralesional cortical activity
- Dual task