Electrical stimulation can support stroke recovery

Electrical stimulation can support stroke recovery

Strokes are one of the leading causes of disability among adults, and elderly people who experience them often need the support of a comprehensive care home team.

However, new research could help people who are struggling to regain full movement of their body after such a trauma.

A team at the University of Oxford looked at 24 volunteers who had experienced a stroke at least six months ago and were all still struggling with arm or hand movements.

Published in the Journal of Science Translational Medicine, the study saw all of the participants get nine sessions of intensive rehabilitation. Some 11 of these were given transcranial direct current stimulation for the first 20 minutes of each session, while the others were given a placebo procedure.

The electrical therapy saw the 11 patients have electrodes placed on their scalp while a low current was delivered. For those undergoing the placebo treatment, the electricity was turned off after a couple of seconds.

Researchers found that those who received the electrical stimulation improved, compared to those who had just had the traditional rehab treatment. The biggest improvements were seen in those patients who had received stimulation for the longest times and these advances were still seen even after their rehabilitation sessions had finished.

“This study is an important step toward larger trials to test the effectiveness of non-invasive, electrical brain stimulation to improve the motor recovery of stroke survivors and support their rehabilitation after stroke,” said Dr Shamim Quadir of the Stroke Association.

Participants also had their brains scanned as part of the study and the team found that those who were given electrical therapy showed increased levels of activity in regions of the brain related to movement.

Although how well a participant fared was connected to the severity of the stroke, the researchers found that many people who had received the electrical treatment found it easier to move their arms and complete everyday tasks.

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