Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Functional recovery from chronic writer’s cramp by brain-computer interface rehabilitation: a case report

Yasunari Hashimoto1*, Tetsuo Ota2, Masahiko Mukaino3, Meigen Liu4 and Junichi Ushiba5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Kitami Institute of Technology, Hokkaido, Japan

2 Asahikawa Medical University Hospital, Hokkaido, Japan

3 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine I, School of Medicine, Fujita Health University, Aichi, Japan

4 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan

5 Department of Biosciences and Informatics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University, Kanagawa, Japan

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BMC Neuroscience 2014, 15:103  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-103

Published: 1 September 2014



Dystonia is often currently treated with botulinum toxin injections to spastic muscles, or deep brain stimulation to the basal ganglia. In addition to these pharmacological or neurosurgical measures, a new noninvasive treatment concept, functional modulation using a brain-computer interface, was tested for feasibility. We recorded electroencephalograms (EEGs) over the bilateral sensorimotor cortex from a patient suffering from chronic writer’s cramp. The patient was asked to suppress an exaggerated beta frequency component in the EEG during hand extension.


The patient completed biweekly one-hour training for 5 months without any adverse effects. Significant decrease of the beta frequency component during handwriting was confirmed, and was associated with clear functional improvement.


The current pilot study suggests that a brain-computer Interface can give explicit feedback of ongoing cortical excitability to patients with dystonia and allow them to suppress exaggerated neural activity, resulting in functional recovery.

Neurorehabilitation; Neurofeedback; Upper extremity; Motor learning; Cortico-muscular coherence