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Stroke Smart Magazine

January/February 2007

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Occupational Therapy Creates Independence

A new study suggests that stroke survivors who participate in occupational therapy have a greater chance of regaining independence. The aim of this therapy is to help survivors learn everyday skills such as bathing, eating and dressing.

Researchers looked at 10 studies of people who received occupational therapy versus those who did not. Their findings showed that those who underwent therapy for six months were much more likely to achieve independence in their day-to-day lives.


Caffeine and Stroke Rehabilitation

Previous studies have found that high caffeine intake increases the risk for hemorrhagic (bleeding in the brain) stroke. On the other hand, drinking caffeine has not been shown to enhance your risk of ischemic (clot-caused) stroke.

Now experts are saying that a small amount of caffeine in your daily diet may be useful in stroke rehabilitation. Caffeine has been shown to help with concentration and focus. Rehab, which often involves learning through repetition, requires lots of concentration. UCLA’s stroke center is reporting that a little caffeine can help a stroke survivor’s attention when performing repeated tasks in rehabilitation.


Younger Stroke Survivors Less Likely to Seek Medical Help

A new study reports that stroke survivors under 65 years of age have more trouble than older survivors with doctor visits and medicine purchases.

Socioeconomic status may be a possible cause. According to the study, stroke survivors between ages 45 and 64 are more likely to be African American, male and without health insurance. The results were particularly alarming because they seem to indicate that many younger stroke survivors are not getting the care they need to manage their health after stroke and prevent further strokes.

More research is needed to figure out if the lack of medical care actually leads to greater health problems for this population.  The study included nearly 3,700 stroke survivors.


Blood Pressure and Recurrent Stroke
It has long been known that unmanaged high blood pressure (hypertension) is the top cause of stroke and that African Americans have a higher risk of stroke. Now a study on recurrent stroke has found that unmanaged high blood pressure is a main reason for the high rates for additional strokes in African American stroke survivors. The study followed more than 1,800 African American stroke patients.


Brain Chip May Help Stroke Survivors

A new brain chip called Neurochip may be able to help with stroke rehabilitation. A major study reports that Neurochip could help establish new nerve connections in the brain. Planted in the brains of monkeys, the chip created brain changes that lasted more than a week.

The researchers hope that Neurochip can eventually help stroke survivors develop new brain pathways for damaged areas that control things like movement a problem area for many people who have had strokes. Animal studies are just the first step and much more research is needed before we will know how safe and effective the chip will be in stroke survivors.


AstraZeneca Stroke Drug Not Approved

AstraZeneca announced that its much-anticipated stroke drug failed to improve disabilities in stroke survivors. The company was forced to drop further product development for the drug, which was known in research trials as NXY-059.


Regaining Eyesight in Stroke Survivors

Sight loss following brain damage from stroke was once believed to be impossible to overcome. Now after eight years of research, studies are showing that patients may be able to partially regain some sight after stroke. By visually stimulating the area of the brain that was damaged by stroke, scientists are beginning to see increased vision in study participants. With more trials planned, this research shows promise.


New Arm and Hand Movement Therapy

Recent studies suggest that constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT), or “forced use” of a weak arm or hand, can actually improve movement after a stroke. This therapy works by immobilizing a stroke survivor’s healthy arm for two weeks, forcing the patient to use the weak or impaired arm.

Researchers studied 222 patients who had an ischemic (clot-caused) stroke within the previous three to nine months. After just two weeks of CIMT therapy, patients improved their movement for up to one year.



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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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