Stroke survivor exhibits remarkable improvement in hand function more than two decades after stroke, disproving theories that recovery window is limited to 6 months.
Charlotte, N.C. – Tuesday, July 25, 2017 – Until recently, researchers believed that if a stroke survivor exhibited no improvement within the first 6 months, then he or she would have little to no chance of regaining motor function in the future. This assumed end of recovery is called a plateau. However, a groundbreaking new article published in the Journal of Neurophysiology discusses a stroke patient’s remarkable improvement decades after suffering a stroke at the age of 15. Doctors Peter Sörös, Robert Teasell, Daniel F. Hanley, and J. David Spence formally dismiss previous theories that stroke recovery occurs within 6 months, reporting that the patient experienced “recovery of hand function that began 23 years after the stroke.”
The patient’s stroke resulted in paralysis on the left side of his body, rendering his left hand completely nonfunctional, despite regular physical therapy. More than twenty years after his stroke, the patient took up swimming when his doctor recommended he lose weight. A year later, he began to show signs of movement on his affected side and returned to physical therapy. Therapists fitted the patient with the SaeboFlex, a mechanical device shown to improve hand function and speed up recovery, and, after only a few months of therapy, he began picking up coins with his previously nonfunctional hand. He also saw notable improvement in hand strength and control with the SaeboGlove, a low-profile hand device recently patented by Saebo.
Functional MRI studies showed the reorganization of sensorimotor neurons in both sides of the patient’s brain more than two decades after his stroke, resulting in a noticeable recovery in both hemispheres and improved motor function. “The marked delayed recovery in our patient and the widespread recruitment of bilateral areas of the brain indicate the potential for much greater stroke recovery than is generally assumed,” the doctors reported. “Physiotherapy and new modalities in development might be indicated long after a stroke.”
“This article highlights what we have seen for the last 15 years with many of our clients,” states Saebo co-founder, Henry Hoffman. “Oftentimes, stroke survivors are told that they have plateaued and no further progress is possible. We believe it is not the client that has plateaued but failed treatment options have plateaued them. In other words, traditional therapy interventions that lack scientific evidence can be ineffective and can actually facilitate the plateau.”
“The SaeboFlex device is a life-changing treatment designed for clients that lack motor recovery and function,” Hoffman continues. “Whether the client recently suffered a stroke or decades later, they can immediately begin using their hand with this device and potentially make significant progress over time. I agree with the authors that the neurorehabilitation community needs to take a hard look at traditional beliefs with respect to the window of recovery following stroke. It is my hope that this article will spark more interest by researchers to investigate upper limb function with clients at the chronic stage using Saebo’s hand technology.”
The abstract and article in its entirety can be viewed at the Journal of Neurophysiology’s website, jn.physiology.org.