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Stroke Smart Magazine

May/June 2008

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Music Helps Survivors with Thinking Skills
Music may help stroke survivors regain memory, attention and problem-solving skills, according to a new study. Finnish researchers found that survivors who listened to music daily for three months improved verbal memory by 60 percent, more than double the improvement seen in those who did not listen to music. Music also led to a 17 percent improvement in concentration and conflict resolution tasks; those in the non-music group showed no improvement in these areas. The study included 60 recent stroke survivors.
Scientists believe that music could prove to be a useful tool, especially in the early
recovery stage, but say that more research is needed.

Post-stroke Treatment Can Decrease Death Rate
According to a Canadian study, early care after stroke could prevent as many as nine out of 10 in-hospital deaths among recovering survivors. The study concluded that if survivors are put into immediate follow-up care, such as occupational therapy, they have a better chance of living. Research was conducted between 2003 and 2005 on more than 3,000 patients.

Stroke Survivors may have Stronger Resistance to Aspirin
University of Buffalo researchers found that about 20 percent of patients taking aspirin to prevent a second stroke or heart attack do not have the desired drug response. In most cases, aspirin can prevent small cells in the blood from clotting and blocking blood flow. But this study of 653 stroke patients shows that some people are resistant to aspirin. In these patients, aspirin does not reduce risk for a recurrent stroke. Researchers suggest
that patients be tested so that alternate treatments can be prescribed for those who are resistant to aspirins effects.

Physical Therapy for Speech
A new process, called “physical therapy for speech,” may help stroke survivors relearn to
form words. Researchers in Dallas and Pittsburgh are using an Electromagnetic Articulograph (EMA) to see inside the mouth as patients try to talk. Using small sensors, the EMA system helps show patients how to position their tongue to make certain sounds and words. The system is expensive and not readily available at most rehab facilities, but could become an important tool in the future of speech therapy.

Communication Issues May Increase Depression
A United Kingdom study found that the loss of language abilities and independence in daily activities were the top causes of depression among recent stroke survivors. Depression after stroke has been linked to poorer rehabilitation outcomes, lower quality of life, suicide and death. Researchers suggest that new stroke survivors could benefit
from more social interaction, activity, and better treatment strategies for aphasia.

Insights on Language after Stroke
Scientists have found that stroke survivors’ brains can reroute information, especially with language. That’s because language is a complex skill involving several parts of the brain. After a stroke, part of the language system may collapse but other parts remain intact. The brain can reroute the path it takes around the damaged area, much like a flight controller reroutes planes around a storm. The rerouting may slow language processes. But it may help stroke survivors recover lost language skills.

Stroke Risk Higher in America than in Europe
Statistics released from the International Stroke Conference (New Orleans, LA) in February reveal that more Americans have strokes than their European counterparts. Researchers said the gap was due in part to stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes being less controlled among Americans.


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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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