The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

February 20, 2014

Head, neck injuries may increase stroke risk

(Continued)

These findings suggest that acute stroke contributes to problems with mental ability, namely memory and executive function that can persist years after the event.

Stroke patients’ hand functionimproves when targeted brainstimulation added to therapy

Stroke patients receiving a combination of navigated brain stimulation and occupational therapy recovered more than twice the arm and hand movement six months after their strokes, compared to patients who received therapy alone.

Researchers presented the findings at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014.

The stimulation noninvasively stimulates the non-injured brain hemisphere in stroke patients to help prevent the non-injured part of the brain from inhibiting the hemisphere injured from stroke. This is thought to allow the injured brain to become more active during occupational therapy treatment, making rehabilitation more effective.

Researchers studied 30 stroke patients with hand weakness on one side months after their strokes. Patients were randomly selected to receive either navigated brain stimulation or sham stimulation for 20 minutes before going to 1.5 hours of arm and hand therapy. Researchers measured the patients’ arm and hand movement and hand dexterity after six weeks of therapy. Those with the stimulation had twice the improvement in arm and hand movement and were more likely to maintain significant improvements at six months.

While both groups improved in control of arm and hand movement over time, 80 percent of patients in the navigated brain stimulation group maintained functional improvement noticeable in everyday life six months after treatment compared to only 50 percent in the sham group.

Since notable improvements from the stimulation therapy can be seen six months after the therapy, non-invasive brain stimulation could offer stroke patients long-lasting functional benefit when added to standard occupational therapy, researchers said.

Stroke survivors often return to driving without being evaluated for ability

Stroke survivors often resume driving without being formally evaluated for ability — though stroke can cause deficits that can impair driving, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014.

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