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Stroke Smart Magazine

March/April 2008

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Nerve Transplant Surgery Could Reverse Paralysis in Survivors
In New Jersey, a man is recovering from a surgery that may give him use of his right side again. After suffering a stroke, Vinni Filipini, 44, was paralyzed on one side of his body. Filipini underwent an innovative surgery where doctors took healthy nerves from his legs and connected them to his arm. The idea was to create an "extension cord" of nerves that would tunnel across Filipini's chest to his bad arm. Monmouth Medical doctors said the surgery was successful but that Filipini will now undergo months of recovery and therapy before results can be determined.


Implant to Help Survivors with Dropped Foot
Salisbury District Hospital researchers in England have developed an implant that helps those with dropped foot. Dropped foot is a condition where a stroke survivor's toes drag along the ground while walking. This increases the risk of falls. The STIMuSTEP device applies small electrical impulses to stimulate nerves. It is implanted under the skin in a procedure that lasts just one hour. Use of this implant can help contract the muscle and lift the foot. The device is in the early stages of research and not yet available to the general public.


Those with Amnesia and Confusion May Be at Higher Risk for Stroke
People who have problems with temporary amnesia, confusion, dizziness or fainting may be at a higher risk for stroke. These experiences, called transient neurological attacks (TNAs), fall into two categories: nonfocal (temporary amnesia) and focal (transient ischemic attack or mini-stroke). Up until now, it was uncertain whether or not nonfocal TNAs were a serious health threat. In the latest study, patients with nonfocal TNAs were seen to have a 56 percent higher risk of stroke and a 59 percent higher risk of having dementia. The study included 6,062 residents of Holland over the age of 54.


Stroke and Heart Disease Deaths on the Decline
The Centers for Disease Control reports that death rates from stroke have decreased nearly 25 percent since 1999. In 2004, heart disease was the leading killer and cancer was second. Stroke was the third leading killer, taking 150,074 lives.


Electrical Stimulation May Play Role in Upper Limb Stroke Recovery
During the 2007 International Neuromodulation Society conference, it was announced that the increase of nerve activity using an implanted microstimulator could help improve movement in the upper limbs of stroke patients. Developed at the Alfred Mann Foundation (Valencia CA), the tiny device, which is smaller than a penny, is inserted under the skin to stimulate muscle nerves. Researchers at the Southampton University Health Science Dept., UK, initially applied stimulation for 12 weeks to the nerves in the arms, hands and fingers. They found that electrical stimulation led to more precise functional movements, such as those required to pick up a glass. They did not see any moderate/serious side effects in the seven initial participants. More studies will be needed on a larger group of people to really determine how effective the longer term treatment is on stroke survivors.


A Slight Increased Risk for Hemorrhagic Stroke with Lipitor®
Duke University's Stroke Center is reporting that cholesterol-lowering atorvastatin medicine (Lipitor®) may slightly increase risk of hemorrhagic stroke. While researchers found that the use of atorvastatin reduced the risk of ischemic or clot-caused stroke, they also found a small increase in brain bleeding. Researchers looked at 4,731 patients around the world who had either a stroke or a TIA (mini-stroke) within six months of the study. They saw a 21 percent decrease in risk for ischemic stroke, but 2.3 percent of patients experienced a hemorrhagic stroke.


Penumbra System Now Available for Use with Ischemic Stroke
Early this year it was announced that the Penumbra System is available for use. The system helps open up blocked vessels after an ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, restoring brain blood flow. Penumbra is delivered using a small tube called a catheter. With the help of x-ray technology to see inside the body, the device is moved through blood vessels from the groin to the clot in the brain. A separator is advanced and retracted through the catheter to dislodge the clot and a suction device grabs and removes it. For doctors and patients alike, the Penumbra System is revolutionary. Previously doctors had limited treatment options for acute ischemic stroke patients who arrived beyond the three-hour window for t-PA. The Penumbra System can be effective within eight hours of symptom onset. For more information, go to http://www.penumbrainc.com/.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Stroke Inspiration
Jean-Dominique Bauby's best selling memoir about his catastrophic stroke has been adapted for the silver screen and released as a film. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is the story of Bauby's experience with locked-in syndrome after his stroke. Though immobile and unable to talk, he was able to write his story by blinking one eye. The film has been nominated for four Oscars® and has won several awards, including 2008 Golden Globe® awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director, as well as the Best Director Award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly" is showing in select theaters. Go to http://www.thedivingbellandthebutterfly.net/ for more information about the movie and book. Check your local listings for a theater near you.



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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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