Safety and improvement of movement function after stroke with atomoxetine: A pilot randomized trial

Andrea Ward, Cheryl Carrico, Elizabeth Powell, Philip M. Westgate, Laurie Nichols, Anne Fleischer, Lumy Sawaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Intensive, task-oriented motor training has been associated with neuroplastic reorganization and improved upper extremity movement function after stroke. However, to optimize such training for people with moderate-to-severe movement impairment, pharmacological modulation of neuroplasticity may be needed as an adjuvant intervention. Objective: Evaluate safety, as well as improvement in movement function, associated with motor training paired with a drug to upregulate neuroplasticity after stroke. Methods: In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 12 subjects with chronic stroke received either atomoxetine or placebo paired with motor training. Safety was assessed using vital signs. Upper extremity movement function was assessed using Fugl-Meyer Assessment, Wolf Motor Function Test, and Action Research Arm Test at baseline, post-intervention, and 1-month follow-up. Results: No significant between-groups differences were found in mean heart rate (95 CI, -12.4-22.6; p=0.23), mean systolic blood pressure (95 CI, -1.7-29.6; p=0.21), or mean diastolic blood pressure (95 CI, -10.4-13.3; p=0.08). A statistically significant between-groups difference on Fugl-Meyer at post-intervention favored the atomoxetine group (95 CI, 1.6-12.7; p=0.016). Conclusion: Atomoxetine combined with motor training appears safe and may optimize motor training outcomes after stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 - IOS Press and the authors.


  • Upper extremity
  • motor training
  • neurorehabilitation
  • occupational therapy
  • safety
  • vital signs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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