Stroke Recovery

Time is of the essence when identifying and treating stroke, but at a recent Capitol Hill briefing we heard about new research that’s showing success in stroke rehabilitation even six months after onset. The briefing, organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and supported by the Dana Foundation, was part of a series designed to educate members of Congress and their staffs about issues in neuroscience.

For example, intense physical therapy after the first six months can still lead to measurable improvement, said Dana Alliance member and briefing presenter Dr. Walter Koroshetz, deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. From the AAAS report:

[Koroshetz described] a clinical trial of stroke patients from five hospitals in Florida and California that showed that intensive rehabilitation, either with in-home exercises or on a specially outfitted treadmill, led to improved walking ability as compared to “standard of care” rehabilitation. Most surprising, Koroshetz said, was the finding that even six months after their strokes, patients who had received only standard care up till then could still make substantial improvement in walking by undergoing intensive treadmill training.

“This tells us that our standard of physical and rehabilitation therapy after a stroke is not optimal,” Koroshetz said. Patients often can benefit from more intensive therapy regimes, he said, and clinicians, patients and health care systems need to recognize that.

To learn more about the event and new approaches to stroke therapies, read the AAAS write-up. You can also read about previous briefings on brain mapping, early-onset dementia, mental illness in young adults, and the links between poverty and brain development.

For more information on stroke, be sure to read our primer.

– Ann L. Whitman

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