A new type of stroke rehabilitation therapy has been developed that may provide better help and new hope for stroke patients.
What happens in a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood supply is cut off to the brain. Simple biology is that the heart pumps blood to all parts of our bodies through the vascular system, our veins and arteries. If something disrupts the system and the oxygen brought through the blood can not reach a part of the body, the cells in that part of the body will quickly degenerate. If something blocks the blood supply to the brain, usually, but not always, a blood clot, brain cells will quickly begin to die, causing varying amounts of brain damage. The sooner the problem is treated, the better chance the patient has at a good outcome.
Depending on where the stroke occurred in the brain and how bad the damage is, a stroke victim may have residual problems with arm or leg control on either or both sides of the body, or she may lose the ability to speak. A small percentage of strokes are fatal, but about ⅔ of victims will come out of it with some disability. About ⅓ of victims will recover completely, not a small number.
Typical stroke rehabilitation efforts
In most cases, the patient will need several months of intense stroke rehabilitation to maximize her recovery. Intense therapy over time can help a patient tremendously and bring back a lot of lost function. Stroke rehabilitation patients need a varied cocktail of therapies including speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and any mix of stroke-specific therapies such as robotic therapies and electrical stimulation.
There are currently only two effective means of treatment that have been approved by the FDA. One is a drug that works to dissolve blood clots. While it’s considered successful, not every patient responds to it, and its efficacy decreases if not used immediately. The second treatment is a device that gets into the arteries to find and take out the clots. These, however, are only available through top experts in larger medical centers.’
Active nerve cell cluster stimulation
The new therapy under study is called active nerve cell cluster stimulation. It uses a small electrode that stimulates a cluster of nerves behind the nose. It’s meant to dilate other arteries that lead to the brain so blood can flow through, bringing much-needed oxygen to brain cells, which is supposed to inhibit further damage.
Researchers followed the results of close to 1,000 people in a recent study. Of the 536 people who were assigned to the therapy group, half of them had very good results – after 3 months, they were performing better than expected. Of the 519 people in the control group, who were given a placebo, 40% of the patients were in the same category.
While this is not considered statistically significant at this stage, these types of studies are often indicative of promising treatments that need to be studied further. For example, the percentage of positive results jumped when the frequencies used were low to middle range, but fell back when the frequencies used were high intensity.
At The Alameda Center, we offer excellent stroke rehabilitation services to help our patients recover and get back to normal functioning. Our expert and caring staff are with you every step of the way.