UK trial results may banish stroke disability

May 10, 2019

Stoke is severely detrimental to most of its sufferers, who struggle to complete menial, everyday tasks. NHS England has identified stroke as the leading cause of disability in the UK. But an English clinical trial for stroke patients has shown promising results that may change conventional stroke treatment.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation is a stroke treatment where an implanted device sends electrical pulses via a nerve to the brain, and stimulates it to bypass damaged areas. The vagus nerve is chosen because of its wide distribution and control in/of the body. It is alesser-known treatment that was previously used to treat epilepsy and depression.

Dr.  Anand Dixit led the trial using this procedure at Newcastle, UK’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. The main concern was purportedly to find an effective treatment solution for stroke patients with arm and hand weakness. Patients on the trial are implanted with a device that sends electrical signals over the damaged part of their brain to connect with another, healthy area. The results proved hopeful for a group of patients with upper limb disability.

There was apparent progress in patient Colin Clough, whose left arm was useless since his stroke a year past, and has since used his right hand instead. Now, Clough,who immediately signed up for the trial when it was introduced, cancarry out basic activities with both hands, such as carrying a tray and pouring water into a cup.

Currently, physiotherapy and repeated physical actions are carried out for stroke patients, with the intention of helping their brain re-learn how to use the weakened limb. The trial, which is due to end in 2020, will hopefully contribute transformative intervention to stroke therapy.


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