Breakthrough Treatment Offers Hope for Stroke Recovery
I can only imagine how terrifying suffering a stroke must be. Sadly, having a stroke is often only the beginning of a very long and difficult journey. For many, life after a stroke means learning to live with at least some degree of paralysis.
Physical or occupational therapy can help, but only up to a certain point. Generally, such therapies are designed to simply help a stoke sufferer adapt to his paralysis. In fact, the goal of most stroke-recovery programs is to simply help victims relearn how to perform such daily activities as walking, personal grooming, and cooking in spite of their disabilities.
However, actually regaining some use of the affected muscles remained until now nothing but a distant pipe dream for many. Now, however, according to some exciting new research reported on the September issue of the European Journal of Neurology, partially paralyzed stroke patients can improve their conditions with a novel noninvasive brain-stimulation technique.
Magnets are already being used to treat depression. Now this treatment, called transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), is showing great promise for helping stroke victims recover some of their lost muscle control.
Scientists at Ain Shams University in Egypt wanted to know if using magnets to stimulate the neurons in the brains of stroke patients could help them recover from their post-stroke paralysis. To find out, they recruited a group of 60 stroke sufferers who had mild to moderate muscle weakness down one side of the body.
The study participants were divided into three groups. One group received magnetic stimulation to the half of the brain affected by the stroke. The second group received magnetic stimulation to the half of the brain not affected by the stroke, and the third group served as a control and did not receive any magnetic stimulation.
The results were quite exciting.
Both treatment groups saw significant improvements. They gained more control over fine motor movements like the ones used for writing or cutting up food, and they also saw a measurable improvement in bigger-muscle activities like walking as well.
In other words they were actually recovering from their paralysis and not just learning to work around it, as is often the case with traditional therapies.
Perhaps equally exciting was the finding that the success of the therapy was not tied to the amount of time that had elapsed since a patient had a stroke. In fact, the rTMS was just as effective for those participants who had a stroke three years ago as it was for those who had suffered one within the last month.
Unfortunately there aren’t any rTMS-treatment centers in the United States yet. But with the results of this latest research the therapy will in all likelihood eventually be adopted as a regular tool in stroke-rehabilitation programs.
In the meantime, you can check for any open clinical trials using rTMS at clinicaltrials.gov. And if you’re willing to travel, you may want to consider a visit to Canada for treatment.
About the author
An enthusiastic believer in the power of natural healing, Alice has spent virtually her entire 17-year career in the natural-health publishing field helping to spread the word.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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