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Stroke Smart Magazine

March/April 2009

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Socializing Might Protect Against Stroke
Social support might protect against strokes by lowering the amount of swelling in the brain. Researchers at Ohio state University found that male mice living with a female partner before and after a stroke had a much higher survival rate compared to mice that lived alone. Also, the paired mice showed much less brain damage than the surviving solitary mice. All the mice that lived with another mouse two weeks before and after the stroke survived seven days, compared to only 40 percent of the isolated animals. Researchers examining tissue samples found the amount of damage in the brain was about four times larger in mice living alone compared to those living with another mouse.

Brain Implants Might Help Overcome Paralysis
Scientists have shown that brain implants might help stroke survivors overcome partial paralysis. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) might be able to detect activity on one side of the brain. The activity is linked to hand and arm movement on the same side of the body. Scientists hope to use these signals to bridge gaps from brain damage and other injuries by using electrodes that link the brain to a computer. BCIs used to consist of small electrodes placed inside brain tissue to record from individual brain cells. Researchers have been developing a different approach known as electrocorticography (ECoG) that uses a sheet filled with electrodes that rests on the surface of the brain, recording from many neurons at once.

Hormone Therapy Shows Promise
Researchers at St. Louis University have found a way to turn off the “guardian” that keeps drugs that might benefit stroke survivors out of the brain. The brain is protected by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) cells that let in nutrients and keep out foreign substances. BBB does not detect which foreign substances are trying to get in to treat diseases and which are trying to do harm, so it blocks them all. The research shows a way to get treatment to the brain using pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP27), a hormone produced by the body that is a neuro-protectant. Researchers isolated the cells that inhibit PACAP27 then designed a molecule that turned off the BBB.

Continued Heart Monitoring assists in Identifying Stroke Cause
For nearly one-third of all people who suffer from a stroke the cause is not evident to doctors. Stroke researchers at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) in Pittsburgh found that monitoring of patients’ hearts after hospital discharge improved their ability to detect atrial fibrillation (AFIB) and treat it. For two to three weeks after discharge, the AGH team monitored patients who have experienced a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) of unknown cause. AFIB was diagnosed in 23 percent of the study participants where conventional diagnostic protocols had failed. Researchers hope to identify AFIB more quickly, increasing the ability to treat patients and perhaps prevent a second, more harmful injury. 

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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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