How does the brain attempt to recover from a stroke? Fascinating new research suggests that when one side of the brain is injured by stroke, the healthier side overcompensates.
That sounds good on the surface. But according to researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, it could prevent the damaged side from recuperating.
An ongoing study involving a consortium of research centers is using “non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation” — known as TMS — to see if it can aid a stroke victim’s brain in attaining more complete recovery.
According to Dr. Marcie Bockbrader, principle investigator for the research, a technology called NexStim (which uses TMS to prepare a stroke patient’s brain for physical therapy) is being tested. NexStim transmits low-frequency magnetic pulses through a victim’s scalp to suppress activity in the healthy part of the motor cortex. As a result, more energy may be available to the injured side as it encounters rehabilitative therapy.
In a news release issued by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Bockbrader said helping the injured side could be life-changing.
“NexStim is a way to specifically stimulate a brain area of interest,” said Bockbrader. “In our study, we are stimulating the motor areas that are sometimes injured in a stroke. This device targets the overactive side, quieting it down enough, so that through therapies, the injured side can learn to express itself again.”
Bockbrader and her fellow researchers hope the study can help more stroke victims experience fuller recoveries.
The double-blind, randomized trial, expected to last eight months, will enroll about 200 volunteers who have had a stroke. Other participating institutions include Mayo Clinic in Arizona; Ranchos Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Institute in California; Shepherd Center in Georgia; Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Indiana University; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Massachusetts; Columbia University; Burke Rehabilitation Center in New York; Duke University; University of Cincinnati; and TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Texas.