The effect of non-invasive auricular vagus nerve stimulation paired with rehabilitation on gait and balance impairments in chronic stroke: A randomised controlled feasibility trial

This research project is testing a new treatment for improving recovery of balance and mobility. The study is led by Ashraf Gerges, Physiotherapist and PhD Candidate, from the University of South Australia.

This study aims to assess whether combining non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation with physical rehabilitation can enhance the recovery of balance and mobility after stroke. It will also explore whether people find this treatment method acceptable, easy to use, and safe.

About the treatment:

Transcutanous vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) is an emerging non-invasive neuromodulation therapy which aims to modulate brain activity through electrical stimulation of a small branch of the vagus nerve located in the auricle. Recently, taVNS paired with rehabilitation has been shown to be a feasible and safe approach to improve upper-limb weakness in subacute and chronic stroke when combined with physical rehabilitation. The positive effect of taVNS on upper-limb motor function, likely driven by enhanced neuroplasticity suggests that pairing taVNS with physical rehabilitation might prove beneficial for enhancing other motor impairments after stroke.

To be able to participate, you will need to be:

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Have experienced stroke for first time at least six months ago
  • Have reduced balance and/or mobility but can walk with or without mobility aid (e.g. walker or walking stick) for 10 meters, with or without physical assistance.

Participants will be asked to attend the UniSA City West Health and Medical Clinic two to three times per week for a 60-minute session each time (15 sessions in total).
Treatment will continue for 6 weeks.

All participants in this study will receive 6 weeks of mobility and balance rehabilitation therapy.

Download participation information sheet


For more information please contact Ashraf Gerges on 08 8302 1365 or or the UniSA Clinical Trial Facility on