Simple technique helps paralyzed stroke victims regain motor function

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: magnetic stimulation, stroke, health news

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(NaturalNews) Researchers from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, have discovered a unique new way to help paralyzed stroke victims regain function. A simple dose of magnetic stimulation applied to the brain hemisphere affected by the stroke can significantly help improve motor function.

Published in the European Journal of Neurology, the study included 60 participants who had had strokes that left them mildly-to-moderately paralyzed on one side of their body. The research team divided the group into three smaller groups composed of 20 people each.

One group of 20 participants received repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in 5-Hz doses on the side of the brain affected by the stroke, the second group received rTMS in 1-Hz doses on the unaffected side of the brain, and the third group received placebo treatments. All groups underwent the same physical therapy regimen.

At the completion of the study, the first two groups experienced significant improvement in motor skills while the control group experienced no improvement.

"Our treatment worked on the theory that increasing the activity of the hemisphere affected by the stroke and reducing the activity of the unaffected hemisphere can reduce muscle weakness and improve overall motor function," explained Anwar El Etribi, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University, and co-author of the study.

According to researchers, some stroke victims lose function on one side of their body because their brains become unbalanced after a stroke. The unaffected side often begins to function too much while the damaged side goes into remission, causing paralysis. So by applying gentle, magnetic stimulation to the damaged side, the brain can once again begin to function in balance as it once did.

"It appears that inhibitory and stimulatory rTMS may well prove useful tools in long-term programs to rehabilitate stroke patients," emphasized Dr. Etribi.

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