This systematic review and meta-analysis aggregated and examined the treatment effect of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) (transcranial direct current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation) on cognitive functions in people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). A systematic search was conducted using databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, PsycINFO, EMBASE) for studies with keywords related to non-randomized and randomized control trials of NIBS among people with TBI. Nine out of 1790 NIBS studies with 197 TBI participants (103 active vs. 94 sham) that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the present study were finally selected for meta-analysis using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software (version 3). Results showed that the overall effect of NIBS on cognition in people with TBI was moderately significant (g = 0.304, 95% CI = 0.055 to 0.553) with very low heterogeneity across studies (I2 = 0.000, Tau = 0.000). Specifically, significant and marginally significant moderate effect sizes were found for cognitive sub-domains including attention, memory, and executive function. The present findings suggest that NIBS is moderately effective in improving cognitive functions among people with TBI. In particular, NIBS may be used as an alternative and/or an adjunct treatment to the traditional approach in rehabilitating cognitive functions in people with TBI.
Keywords: cognitive functions; non-invasive brain stimulation; transcranial direct current stimulation; transcranial magnetic stimulation; traumatic brain injury.