Study design A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Objectives To determine the effect of non-invasive transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) on spasticity, activity limitations and participation restrictions in various upper motor neuron diseases. Methods Six databases including CINAHL plus, Cochrane CENTRAL, Embase, MEDLINE, SCOPUS and Web of Science were searched for the relevant records from January 2008 to December 2022. Two reviewers independently selected and extracted data on spasticity, activity limitations and participation restrictions. The risk of bias was evaluated using the PEDro scale while the GRADE approach established the certainty of the evidence. Results Eleven studies were identified of which 5 (45.5%) were rated as having a low risk of bias and 8 (72.7%) were meta-analyzed. The meta-analyses did not show any significant differences between cathodal (SMD = −0.67, 95% CI = −1.50 to 0.15, P = 0.11, I2 = 75%, 6 RCTs) or anodal (SMD = 0.11, 95% CI = −0.43 to −0.64, p = 0.69, I2 = 0%, 2 RCTs) and sham tsDCS for spasticity. There was also no significant difference between active and sham tsDCS for activity limitations (SMD = −0.42, 95% CI = −0.04 to 0.21, p = 0.2, I2 = 0%, 2 RCTs) and participation restrictions (MD = −8.10, 95% CI = −18.02 to 1.82, p = 0.11, 1 RCT). Conclusions The meta-analysis of the available evidence provides an uncertain estimate of the effect of cathodal tsDCS on spasticity, activity limitation and participation restriction. It might be very helpful, or it may make no difference at all. However, considering the level of the evidence and the limitation in the quality of the majority of the included studies, further well-designed research may likely change the estimate of effect.



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Spinal Cord



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School of Health Professions