Sunday, March 27, 2011

Brain Stimulation Might Help Stroke Patients With Swallowing Problems


Brain Stimulation Might Help Stroke Patients With Swallowing Problems

Small, preliminary study found electrical therapy led to improved function in patients

FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Electrical stimulation of the brain could help stroke patients avoid potentially dangerous problems with swallowing, preliminary research indicates.
The treatment has only been tested in a small number of patients and needs further exploration. Still, the findings published online March 24 in the journal Stroke are "encouraging," said Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University Medical Center.
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An estimated 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States, and most of them survive, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But many lose some of their ability to swallow, a problem known as dysphagia.
"Post-stroke swallowing difficulty is an important problem. Up to half of stroke patients studied have dysfunctional swallowing, and up to a third of these patients aspirate, swallowing material that enters the windpipe rather than going into the stomach," Goldstein explained. "This can cause pneumonia, which can prolong hospitalization, interfere with recovery or increase the chances of dying."
In the new study, researchers mildly stimulated the brains of patients through electrodes placed on the scalp. The idea is to boost activity in certain parts of the brain.
Patients who received the treatment had an easier time swallowing than patients who didn't. Eighty-six percent of patients who received the treatment improved their swallowing by at least two points on a seven-point scale, while only 43 percent of other patients did.
The 14 patients in the study had all suffered strokes between one and seven days earlier, and were being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
"Further studies are warranted to refine this promising intervention by exploring effects of stimulation parameters, frequency of stimulation, and timing of the intervention in improving swallowing functions," the researchers wrote.
More information
For more about dysphagia, visit the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
more read.....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brain can compensate loss of new cells

Brain can compensate loss of new cells

2011-03-20 14:20:00

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Washington, March 20 (IANS) The brain is an amazingly adaptable organ that can restore critical functions linked with learning and memory even if its ability to make new cells is curtailed, researchers say.
These findings bring scientists a step closer to isolating the mechanisms by which the brain compensates for disruptions and reroutes neural (nerve cell) functioning which could open the way to treating cognitive impairments in humans.

'It's amazing how the brain is capable of reorganizing itself in this manner,' says Geoffrey Murphy, study co-author at the University of Michigan Molecular and Behavioural Neuroscience Institute, reports the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

'Right now, we're still figuring out exactly how the brain accomplishes all this at the molecular level, but it's sort of comforting to know that our brains are keeping track of all of this for us,' adds Murphy, according to a Michigan statement.

In previous research, scientists found that restricting cell division in a vital component of the brain in mice curtailed cellular mechanism linked with memory formation.more read...

Breakthrough in delivering drugs to the brain

Breakthrough in delivering drugs to the brain

Brain cells Getting drugs to brain cells has hampered medical advances

Related Stories

A new way of delivering drugs to the brain has been developed by scientists at the University of Oxford.
They used the body's own transporters - exosomes - to deliver drugs in an experiment on mice.
The authors say the study, in Nature Biotechnology, could be vital for treating diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Muscular Dystrophy.
The Alzheimer's Society said the study was "exciting" and could lead to more effective treatments.
Research barrier One of the medical challenges with diseases of the brain is getting any treatment to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The barrier exists to protect the brain, preventing bacteria from crossing over from the blood, while letting oxygen through.
However, this has also produced problems for medicine, as drugs can also be blocked.

more read....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Brave teen stands up for all those who struggle to speak but have so much to say

connor stewart Image 2
FRUSTRATION echoes in Connor Stewart's voice.
Because every word is a struggle for the 17-year-old, who is sharp and extremely bright.
A bone marrow transplant to save him from childhood leukaemia resulted in a brain injury which means he must fight to get his words out.
But Connor knows he is not alone and that even his limited skills make him luckier than some who cannot speak at all.
Which is why he has become an ambassador for the Talk for Scotland campaign, representing thousands who cannot communicate properly.
He said: "Being unable to communicate can make you feel very isolated but when I went to Civic Participation Network meetings, I found people with similar problems."
Some of them had suffered throat cancer, strokes or brain haemorrhages. Others had MS, Parkinson's or Aphasia. But they all had one thing in common - they found it difficult to express what they wanted to say.
Connor, from Bathgate, West Lothian, said: "Since working with these people, I have become more determine.... Read More...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Imaging Study Probes Consciousness in Brain-Injured Patients

New research uses imaging technology to assess higher-level cognitive functioning in severely brain-injured patients. The study provides a window into consciousness — but the view it presents is one that is blurred in fascinating ways, say researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College.
In a novel study of six patients ranging in their function from minimally conscious state to the locked-in syndrome (normal cognitive function with severe motor impairment), the researchers looked at how the brains of these patients respond to a set of commands and questions while being scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).Read more...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BoyCriedWolf - he didn’t

Two years ago, travelling through Vietnam on a family holiday, Antonio (Toni) Ianella suffered a stroke. He was 38 with three young children and spent three days in intensive care before being moved to a ward and flown home to Melbourne 11 days later.
His stroke was the result of an undiagnosed AVM (arteriovenous malformation) and occurred as a bleed on his brain stem.
He is lucky to be alive: “I was told only one in five people survive a bleed in the base of their brain,” Toni says.
Back in Melbourne Toni spent time at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Sunshine Hospital in intensive three-month rehabilitation.
The former construction site project manager found he had to reassess the life he had led. With some cognitive, hearing, speech and mobility changes post-stroke the construction site job was no longer viable.
“I had my chosen career pretty much taken away from me.  Really, the next step was to work on what I could do and what I was still passionate about.”
For Toni that was music. He had always written and played songs and had a string of projects that he dabbled in – all around music. No longer able to play an instrument, he turned his energy to writing songs and forming a band – BoyCriedWolf.
“I had to think about the things I love and that has always been music,” he says.
“Music is about making magic out of emotion.”
The band has been successful – winning a Battle of the Bands competition last year, the small winnings of which has allowed an album to be recorded – and is not the only project Toni works on in his modest home recording studio.
“It’s been two years now, a relapse last July and I have to accept this (his recovery) is going to stick around for a while. I have to work around it. I’ve done a web design course and am focusing on family and getting better in small steps.”
To hear Toni’s music click here.