Someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and dies every 4 minutes. Women are more prone to strokes than men are, and blacks are twice as likely as whites to be afflicted. Most surprisingly, a third of all strokes happen to people under the age of 65. Often, survivors lose the ability to get around independently.
Now, new research has found techniques that can restore motion, even months after a blood vessel blockage or rupture kills brain cells. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Houston, and Thomas Jefferson University are perfecting two unique techniques. Using special sensors, the team at UC discovered that 30 patients who walked backward on a treadmill in six 30 minute sessions could “encourage” their brains to improve motor and muscle control and balance. UC doctors are now trying to figure out why this therapy worked so effectively.
The teams at Houston and Thomas Jefferson are studying a brain-machine interface that interprets brain waves, then triggers a special wearable, robotic brace that allows patients to move their damaged limbs. The Houston research project didn’t require a brain implant, whereas the Thomas Jefferson device did. In the Houston study, the effects remained two months after therapy ended.
Of course, the best therapy is to avoid having a stroke. Eat better, stay fit, don’t smoke, and manage any chronic diseases to help protect yourself from a “brain attack.”