Magnetic pulses that stimulate the brain may improve recovery after a stroke.

Called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, the treatment has improved motor function in a small group of people.

“These results are exciting because magnetic stimulation is a noninvasive, painless therapy that can be done while patients are awake,” says study author Felipe Fregni of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“These results need to be confirmed by larger studies with more patients, but the results are encouraging,” says Fregni.

For the procedure, an insulated wire coil is placed on the scalp and a brief electrical current is passed through it.

This creates a magnetic pulse that stimulates the outer part of the brain, called the cortex.

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