Posts Tagged stroke recovery

[WEB SITE] Glowing brain cells illuminate stroke recovery research

CAPTION
Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) is fused to the ChR protein. ChR can be activated by blue light or by light emitted by Gluc when binding to its substrate coelenterazine (CTZ). YFP = yellow fluorescent protein.
CREDIT
Shan Ping Yu

A promising strategy for helping stroke patients recover, transplanting neural progenitor cells to restore lost functions, asks a lot of those cells. They’re supposed to know how to integrate into a mature (but damaged) brain. The cells need help.

 

To provide that help, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have developed an “optochemogenetics” approach that modifies a widely used neuroscience tool. The stimulation that transplanted cells need to flourish comes from light, generated within the brain. In a mouse model of stroke, neural progenitor cells received light stimulation, which promoted functional recovery in the mice.

The results are scheduled for publication in Journal of Neuroscience.

Neuroscience aficionados may be familiar with optogenetics, which allows scientists to study the brain conveniently, activating or inhibiting groups of neurons at the flip of a switch. (Mice with fiber optic cables attached to their heads can be found in many labs.) Emory investigators led by Shan Ping Yu, MD, PhD and Ling Wei, MD wanted to remove the cable: that is, figure out how to selectively stimulate brain cells non-invasively.

They teamed up with Jack Tung, PhD, Ken Berglund, PhD and Robert Gross, MD, who had created “luminopsins”, engineered proteins that are both light-sensitive and generate their own light when provided with a chemical called CTZ (coelenterazine). The protein components come from Volvox algae and from Gaussia princeps, a fingernail-sized crustacean that lives in the deep ocean.

Yu and Wei were looking for ways to coax neural progenitor cells – capable of multiplying and differentiating into mature neurons – to survive in the brain after the destruction of a stroke. They were working with a mouse model, in which the sensory and motor regions on one side of the brain are damaged.

“It is not sufficient to put the cells into the damaged brain and then not take care of them.” Yu says. “If we expect progenitor cells to differentiate and become functional neurons, the cells have to receive stimulation that mimics the kind of activity they will see in the brain. They also need growth factors and a supportive environment.”

Yu and Wei are in Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology, while Tung, Berglund and Gross are in the Department of Neurosurgery and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory.

In experiments described in the current paper, scientists introduced genes encoding luminopsins into induced pluripotent stem cells, which were cultured to form neural progenitor cells. The neural progenitor cells were delivered into the brains of mice a week after stroke. CTZ, which emits light when acted upon by luminopsins, was then provided intranasally twice a day for two weeks. Intranasal delivery bypasses the blood-brain barrier and repeated administrations are clinically feasible, Yu points out. Bioluminescence could be detected in the cell graft area and was visible for around one hour after CTZ administration.

CTZ promoted an array of positive effects in the progenitor cells: more survival and intact axons, more connections within the brain and better responses to electrical stimulation. It also promoted recovery of function in the affected limb in the mice. The mice were tested in activities such as: reaching and grasping food pellets, or removing adhesive dots from their paws. In young mice, CTZ and progenitor cells together could restore use of the stroke-affected limb back to normal levels, and even in older mice, they produced partial recovery of function.

When Yu was asked about clinical prospects, he said that optochemogenetics represents a significant advance, compared with its constituent technologies.

“Optogenetics is a fantastic technical tool, but it presents some barriers to clinical implementation,” he says. “You have the invasive fiber optic light delivery, and the limited distance of light diffusion, especially on the larger scale of the human brain.”

Delivery of cells into the brain and making them glow are complex, but they offer scientists some flexibility when designing experiments: direct light application, which can be turned on and off quickly, or the steady support of CTZ stimulation. Luminopsins can provide “the capabilities for the cells to be activated either in a way mimicking neuronal activities of fast activation or manipulations of the channel/cell in clinical treatments,” the authors write.

Yu and his colleagues are also testing their approach for the delivery of neural progenitor cells in the context of traumatic brain injury.

via Glowing brain cells illuminate stroke recovery research | EurekAlert! Science News

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[ARTICLE] Sensory retraining of the leg after stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis – Full Text

This systematic review aimed to investigate the effects of interventions intended for retraining leg somatosensory function on somatosensory impairment, and secondary outcomes of balance and gait, after stroke.

Databases searched from inception to 16 January 2019 included Cochrane Library, PubMed, MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PEDro, PsycINFO, and Scopus. Reference lists of relevant publications were also manually searched.

All types of quantitative studies incorporating interventions that intended to improve somatosensory function in the leg post stroke were retrieved. The Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies was used for quality appraisal. Standardised mean differences were calculated and meta-analyses were performed using preconstructed Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

The search yielded 16 studies, comprising 430 participants, using a diverse range of interventions. In total, 10 of the included studies were rated weak in quality, 6 were rated moderate, and none was rated strong. Study quality was predominantly affected by high risk of selection bias, lack of blinding, and the use of somatosensory measures that have not been psychometrically evaluated. A significant heterogeneous positive summary effect size (SES) was found for somatosensory outcomes (SES: 0.52; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.04 to 1.01; I2 = 74.48%), which included joint position sense, light touch, and two-point discrimination. There was also a significant heterogeneous positive SES for Berg Balance Scale scores (SES: 0.62; 95% CI: 0.10 to 1.14; I2 = 59.05%). Gait SES, mainly of gait velocity, was not significant.

This review suggests that interventions used for retraining leg somatosensory impairment after stroke significantly improved somatosensory function and balance but not gait.

 

Somatosensory impairment is common after stroke, occurring in up to 89% of stroke survivors.1Proprioception and tactile somatosensation are more impaired in the leg than in the arm post stroke,2 with the frequency increasing with increasing level of weakness and stroke severity.2,3 Leg somatosensory impairment also has a significant impact on independence in daily activities3 and activity participation in stroke survivors,4 as well as predicts longer hospital stays and lower frequency of home discharges.5

Leg somatosensory impairment negatively influences balance and gait. Post-stroke plantar tactile deficits correlate with lower balance scores and greater postural sway in standing.6 Tactile and proprioceptive feedback provide critical information about weight borne through the limb.7 Accordingly, tactile and proprioceptive somatosensory deficits may hinder paretic limb load detection ability, potentially leading to reduced weight-bearing and contributing to balance impairment and falls post stroke.8 Indeed, stroke survivors with somatosensory impairment have a higher falls incidence compared to those without somatosensory impairment.3 In addition to reduced balance, impaired load detection may also contribute to gait asymmetry, particularly in the push-off phase.8 In addition, leg proprioception influences variance in stride length, gait velocity,9 and walking endurance in stroke survivors.10 In fact, leg somatosensory impairment has been shown to be the third most important independent factor for reduced gait velocity in stroke survivors.11

Two systematic reviews have previously investigated the effects of interventions for retraining somatosensory function after stroke.12,13 In the first review, published more than a decade ago, only four of the 14 included studies targeted the leg,12 while the second only included studies of the arm.13 Nevertheless, both reviews reported that there were insufficient data to determine the effectiveness of these interventions. A third systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of proprioceptive training14 only included 16 studies with stroke-specific populations, of which only two specifically addressed the leg. From these three reviews, the effects of interventions for post-stroke leg somatosensory impairment remain unclear. In addition, the first review12 was critiqued for including studies with participants without somatosensory impairment, and that did not report somatosensory outcomes.15 Therefore, a targeted systematic review, addressing the limitations of previous reviews, is required to elucidate the effects of interventions for post-stroke leg somatosensory impairment.

It is of interest to clinicians and researchers to evaluate the effects of leg somatosensory retraining on factors that may ultimately influence activity and participation, as this could change practice. Therefore, this systematic review aimed to examine the effects of post-stroke leg somatosensory retraining on somatosensory impairment, balance, gait, motor impairment, and leg function.[…]

 

Continue —> Sensory retraining of the leg after stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis – Fenny SF Chia, Suzanne Kuys, Nancy Low Choy, 2019

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[Abstract] Differential Poststroke Motor Recovery in an Arm Versus Hand Muscle in the Absence of Motor Evoked Potentials

Background. After stroke, recovery of movement in proximal and distal upper extremity (UE) muscles appears to follow different time courses, suggesting differences in their neural substrates.

Objective. We sought to determine if presence or absence of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) differentially influences recovery of volitional contraction and strength in an arm muscle versus an intrinsic hand muscle. We also related MEP status to recovery of proximal and distal interjoint coordination and movement fractionation, as measured by the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA).

Methods. In 45 subjects in the year following ischemic stroke, we tracked the relationship between corticospinal tract (CST) integrity and behavioral recovery in the biceps (BIC) and first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle. We used transcranial magnetic stimulation to probe CST integrity, indicated by MEPs, in BIC and FDI. We used electromyography, dynamometry, and UE FMA subscores to assess muscle-specific contraction, strength, and inter-joint coordination, respectively.

Results. Presence of MEPs resulted in higher likelihood of muscle contraction, greater strength, and higher FMA scores. Without MEPs, BICs could more often volitionally contract, were less weak, and had steeper strength recovery curves than FDIs; in contrast, FMA recovery curves plateaued below normal levels for both the arm and hand.

Conclusions. There are shared and separate substrates for paretic UE recovery. CST integrity is necessary for interjoint coordination in both segments and for overall recovery. In its absence, alternative pathways may assist recovery of volitional contraction and strength, particularly in BIC. These findings suggest that more targeted approaches might be needed to optimize UE recovery.

 

via Differential Poststroke Motor Recovery in an Arm Versus Hand Muscle in the Absence of Motor Evoked Potentials – Heidi M. Schambra, Jing Xu, Meret Branscheidt, Martin Lindquist, Jasim Uddin, Levke Steiner, Benjamin Hertler, Nathan Kim, Jessica Berard, Michelle D. Harran, Juan C. Cortes, Tomoko Kitago, Andreas Luft, John W. Krakauer, Pablo A. Celnik, 2019

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[ARTICLE] Diffusion Tensor Imaging Biomarkers to Predict Motor Outcomes in Stroke: A Narrative Review – Full Text

Stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Motor impairments occur in most of the patients with stroke in the acute phase and contribute substantially to disability. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) biomarkers such as fractional anisotropy (FA) measured at an early phase after stroke have emerged as potential predictors of motor recovery. In this narrative review, we: (1) review key concepts of diffusion MRI (dMRI); (2) present an overview of state-of-art methodological aspects of data collection, analysis and reporting; and (3) critically review challenges of DTI in stroke as well as results of studies that investigated the correlation between DTI metrics within the corticospinal tract and motor outcomes at different stages after stroke. We reviewed studies published between January, 2008 and December, 2018, that reported correlations between DTI metrics collected within the first 24 h (hyperacute), 2–7 days (acute), and >7–90 days (early subacute) after stroke. Nineteen studies were included. Our review shows that there is no consensus about gold standards for DTI data collection or processing. We found great methodological differences across studies that evaluated DTI metrics within the corticospinal tract. Despite heterogeneity in stroke lesions and analysis approaches, the majority of studies reported significant correlations between DTI biomarkers and motor impairments. It remains to be determined whether DTI results could enhance the predictive value of motor disability models based on clinical and neurophysiological variables.

Introduction

Stroke is the second cause of death and the third leading cause of loss of DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) worldwide. Despite substantial advances in prevention and treatment, the global burden of this condition remains massive (1). In ischemic stroke (IS; 80–85% of the cases), hypoperfusion leads to cell death and tissue loss while in hemorrhagic stroke (HS), primary injury derives from hematoma formation and secondary injury, from a cascade of events resulting in edema and cellular death (2). In IS, cytotoxic edema is a result of glucose and oxygen deprivation, leading to a failure of ion pumps in the cell membranes and consequently to collapse of osmotic regulation, when water shifts from the extracellular to the intracellular compartment (3). In HS, heme degradation products are the primary cytotoxic event and secondarily, an inflammatory process based on degradation of the hematoma takes place (4).

Diffusion MRI (dMRI) is a powerful diagnostic tool in acute IS (5) and is widely used in clinical practice (6). dMRI sequences are sensitive to water displacement. Acute infarcts appear hyperintense on diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) reflecting the decrease in the apparent diffusion coefficient of water molecules. DWI can be acquired and interpreted over a few minutes. It provides key information for eligibility to reperfusion therapies from 6 to 24 h after onset of symptoms (DAWN study) (7) and in wake-up strokes (8). A search on MEDLINE using the terms “stroke” and “diffusion MRI” yielded 1 article in 1991 and 279, in 2018. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) involves more complex post-processing, mathematical modeling of the DW signal (9) and provides measures associated with white matter (WM) microstructural properties (10).

Stroke can directly injure WM tracts and also lead to Wallerian degeneration, the anterograde distal degeneration of injured axons accompanied by demyelination (11). DTI metrics have been studied as biomarkers of recovery or responsiveness to rehabilitation interventions (1214). The bulk of DTI studies addressed specifically the corticospinal tract (CST), crucial for motor performance or recovery (1215), and frequently affected by stroke lesions. Paresis occurs in the majority of the subjects in the acute phase and contributes substantially to disability (16). It is thus understandable that the CST is in the spotlight of research in the field.

Two meta-analyses included from six to eight studies and reported strong correlations between DTI metrics and upper-limb motor recovery in IS and HS (1718). In both meta-analyses, heterogeneity between the studies was moderate. In addition, the quality of the evidence of DTI as a predictor of motor recovery was considered only moderate by a systematic review of potential biomarkers (19). The main limitations of the reviewed studies were the lack of cross-validation and evaluation of minimal clinically important differences for motor outcomes as well as the small sample sizes. Heterogeneity in DTI data collection and analysis strategies may also contribute to inconsistencies and hinder comparisons between studies.

In this narrative review, first we review the key concepts of dMRI. Second, we present an overview of state-of-art methodological practices in DTI processing. Third, we critically review challenges of DTI in stroke and results of studies that investigated the correlation between DTI metrics in the CST and motor outcomes at different stages after stroke, according to recommendations of the Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation Roundtable taskforce (20).

Concepts of Diffusion MRI

Different MRI paradigms address WM qualitatively and quantitatively (i.e., volume, contrast as signal hyperintensities), but only dMRI allows indirect inferences about WM microstructure by providing information about the underlying organization of the tissue. In regions of little restriction of water displacement (such as the ventricles), water molecules tend to move almost freely (randomly). On the other hand, within tracts, the environment tends to be organized within sets of axons aligned in parallel orientation. Water movement usually follows a specific orientation near axons compactly organized and constrained by the myelin packing (21).

The diffusion tensor is the most commonly used mathematical modeling of the diffusion signal and can be decomposed into its eigenvalues (λ) and eigenvectors (ε), required to characterize the signal of water displacement within a voxel. Each eigenvector represents an axis of dominant diffusion with the magnitude of diffusion determined by the corresponding eigenvalues. If the diffusion is isotropic (the same along each orientation), then the eigenvalues have approximately the same magnitude (λ1 ≈ λ2 ≈ λ3), which can be depicted by a sphere. By contrast, if there is a preferential orientation of the diffusion, then the first eigenvalue is bigger than the other two, which can be visualized typically by an ellipsoid (λ1 >> λ2, λ3) (Figure 1).

FIGURE 1

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Figure 1. Model of the tensor showing the eingenvalues. Diffusivities are depicted in FA representation (λll—parallel or axial diffusivity—AD, λperpendicular or radial diffusivity—RD).

Hence, the tensor calculation is typically based on a 3 × 3 symmetric matrix, in which the eigenvalues derived from each combination of directions provide different metrics. At least one b0 (non-diffusion-weighted) and 6 non-collinear directions of diffusion-weighted acquisitions are required to minimally describe water displacement with DTI (10). Generally, the more directions, the better.

The most widely used DTI metrics are: fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity (AD). FA describes the degree of anisotropy (represented as an ellipsoid), a value between 0 (isotropic) and 1 (the most anisotropic). Anisotropy tends to increase in the presence of highly oriented fibers (Figure 1). The biggest value is supposed to be found in the center of the tracts. In particular, for CST analysis in stroke or other focal brain lesions, FA results can be reported as ratios between FA extracted from the ipsilesional and the contralesional hemispheres (rFA = FA ipsilesional/FA contralesional). Alternatively, asymmetry in FA can be described (aFA = (FA ipsilesional – FA contralesional)/(FA ipsilesional + FA contralesional).

MD describes the magnitude of diffusion and the biggest value is supposed to be found in the ventricles. RD represents the average diffusivity perpendicular to the first eigenvector and AD is the first eigenvalue (λ1) representing the diffusivity along the dominant diffusion direction.

Many studies have focused exclusively on FA. The proper interpretation of FA often demands knowledge about results of the other three DTI metrics (22). Changes in anisotropy may reflect several biological underpinnings, such as axonal packing density, axonal diameter, myelinization, neurite density, and orientation distribution (2123). FA can be decreased in conditions that injure the WM but also when multiple crossing fibers are present in the voxel. In case of partial volume effects, both FA and MD may be altered (2425).[…]

Continue —>
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2019.00445/full

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[Abstract] High-Intensity Interval Training After Stroke: An Opportunity to Promote Functional Recovery, Cardiovascular Health, and Neuroplasticity.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability. Individuals poststroke possess less than half of the cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) as their nonstroke counterparts, leading to inactivity, deconditioning, and an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Preserving cardiovascular health is critical to lower stroke risk; however, stroke rehabilitation typically provides limited opportunity for cardiovascular exercise. Optimal cardiovascular training parameters to maximize recovery in stroke survivors also remains unknown. While stroke rehabilitation recommendations suggest the use of moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICE) to improve CRF, neither is it routinely implemented in clinical practice, nor is the intensity always sufficient to elicit a training effect. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has emerged as a potentially effective alternative that encompasses brief high-intensity bursts of exercise interspersed with bouts of recovery, aiming to maximize cardiovascular exercise intensity in a time-efficient manner. HIIT may provide an alternative exercise intervention and invoke more pronounced benefits poststroke.

OBJECTIVES:

To provide an updated review of HIIT poststroke through ( a) synthesizing current evidence; ( b) proposing preliminary considerations of HIIT parameters to optimize benefit; ( c) discussing potential mechanisms underlying changes in function, cardiovascular health, and neuroplasticity following HIIT; and ( d) discussing clinical implications and directions for future research.

RESULTS:

Preliminary evidence from 10 studies report HIIT-associated improvements in functional, cardiovascular, and neuroplastic outcomes poststroke; however, optimal HIIT parameters remain unknown.

CONCLUSION:

Larger randomized controlled trials are necessary to establish ( a) effectiveness, safety, and optimal training parameters within more heterogeneous poststroke populations; (b) potential mechanisms of HIIT-associated improvements; and ( c) adherence and psychosocial outcomes.

 

via High-Intensity Interval Training After Stroke: An Opportunity to Promote Functional Recovery, Cardiovascular Health, and Neuroplasticity. – PubMed – NCBI

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[ARTICLE] Device designed for fabrication of finger rehabilitation along with virtual reality – Full Text PDF

 Abstract

This paper presents a virtual reality-enhanced
hand rehabilitation support system with a systematic
master-slave motion assistant for independent
rehabilitation therapies. Our aim is to provide a more
interactive way of providing hope losing patients a
better way to improve themselves. The VR system will
be able to track the motion of the finger virtually in the
desktop and encourage the patient to move along with
the displaying module. Here the stiffness and the
intensity of the patient’s stroke which has impact on its
finger reusability will be understood and the facilitating
animation will be provided. All these are assisted by a set
of tests after which the patient for the particular
program is qualified and grouped accordingly.

I. INTRODUCTION

The VR framework will have the capacity to track
the movement of the finger for all intents and purposes
in the work area and urge the patient to move alongside
the showing module.
• The VR support for this device takes it to an
egde from the remaining system.
• Interactive sessions will be provided to the
patient for easy way to provide service
• Patients will be further tested for group
formation based on the stiffness, duration after
stroke, intensity of impact or any brains
malfunction.

The abnormal behavior of the brain tends to make it
difficult for the patient to recover after some time, but
now such an interactive session can even encourage
them with a believe of their improvements.
The hand restoration is to some degree troublesome
in light of the fact that the hand has numerous degrees of
freedom of movement, and movement is facitated by this
gadget that could be wore in hand as it is little in
estimate (small in size).
The proposed system under development works as a
motion facilitating assistant for the patients who are in
learning process. This system has three main parts: 1)
An Virutal Reality which provides an interactive
environment 2) A rehabilitation device controller and 3]
with the help of safety supervisor who will guide with
the appropriate attributes for the rehabilitation facility
asked by the patient. […]

Full Text PDF

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[BLOG POST] Guide to Helping Young People Recovering From a Stroke – Saebo

If someone in your family has a stroke, you may experience a significant change in your life. That person will need great care and support, and there may be a variety of emotional and behavioral changes that you’ll have to be prepared for. This can especially be the case if the stroke occurs at a young age. Not only will a stroke survivor need guidance and encouragement, but a young person recovering from a stroke will need assistance with a wide range of other tasks. According to an article published by Stroke Research and Treatment Magazine, there are many outcomes that “are attributable to the effects of stroke on age-normative roles and activities, self-image, and the young person’s stage in the life-cycle, especially family and work. ‘Hidden’ cognitive impairments, a disrupted sense of self, and the incongruity of suffering an ‘older person’s’ disease is salient.”

Astoundingly, 10% of stroke patients are under the age of 50. The rehabilitation process after a stroke is difficult at any age, and this younger demographic of stroke patients often goes unnoticed, so it’s important to pay special attention to the particular challenges that arise in these cases. With the information provided here, combined with a proactive mindset, you can better a young survivor’s recovery experience.

7 Challenges to Consider for Younger Stroke Patients

Someone who is just starting out in life — beginning a new career, embarking on a new relationship, pursuing a degree, parenthood — must deal with the pressures of finding success and, when you add in the severity of a stroke, the weight of that pressure can be insurmountable. To gain a better perspective of what they’re going though, here are a few things to consider:

1. Loss of Employment

Having a job that provides a sense of responsibility and independence is crucial for a young person trying to find their way in the world. Working gives people purpose and fulfillment, but unfortunately, when a young person experiences a stroke, they will most likely require a substantial amount of time off. In some cases, an individual may not be able to perform their job in the same way, or they may need to stop working altogether. On the bright side, studies have shown that “most of the investigations in long-term prognosis have described good functional recovery in young adults with ischemic stroke, since most patients are independent and at least 50% return to work.

2. Financial Debt

When a stroke is experienced by someone who doesn’t have the support of a retirement fund, the financial toll can be devastating for both the individual and their family. Combine this strife with the frustration of not being able to work — not to mention that a spouse or other family members may have to stop working as well — and the task of recovery becomes even more daunting. To alleviate this issue, there are disability programs that can aid in paying for medical bills, but the approval process can be arduous, and the wait time can result in the accrual of exorbitant debt.

3. Young People Think They’re Not at Risk

One of the biggest misconceptions young people today have about strokes is that one could never happen to them. They believe that they are simply too young to have health problems that are typically associated with older people, but this is exactly why strokes are on the rise. Risk factors such as tobacco use and hypertension are prevalent among young adults and adolescents, which directly relates to a spike in ischemic strokes throughout this demographic.

4. Misdiagnosis

In conjunction with number three, medical professionals and family members are quick to incorrectly diagnosis a stroke as something else entirely, because the individual is so young. Because of this error, a person may not receive the care they need to survive. An extreme example of this occurred when a 24-year-old named Lauren Rushen suffered a stroke, and for two weeks her doctors wrote off her symptoms as an infection and inflammation. Finally, after she collapsed on the floor of her home, she was rushed to her local hospital where yet again her attack was ruled a result of substance abuse. Luckily for Lauren, she was able to recover, but others should be aware that there is only a small window of time available for a patient to maximize their chances of rehabilitation.

5. They Have a Long Life Ahead of Them

It’s important to remember that young people who experience a stroke will have time on their side, but a lot of that time will be spent adapting to their setbacks. Arrangements for physical care, mental redevelopment, and financial needs could be necessary for an extended period, especially since the rehabilitation process can last many years (or for a lifetime).

6. Insurance

Because many people are not eligible for Medicare until the age of 65, countless young people who experience a stroke may be left without coverage due to multiple factors. First of all, a young person may not even have had insurance prior to their stroke, and if they did, they will most likely become uninsured from not being able to work. The cycle of applying for Medicare and SSDI is difficult to endure, let alone while facing a debilitating ailment.

7. Family Life

For a stroke survivor who is older, family life is typically already structured around support for themselves. This means that an older person has raised their children and now has no immediate responsibility to care for someone else. However, for a younger person, the case is entirely different. A younger survivor may have small children to look after, or might have dreams of one day starting a family. Having a stroke as a young person means these plans are put on hold, or other family members may have to take on more responsibility at home. This can be incredibly stressful to deal with and affects everyone involved.

2 Key Ways to Be Proactive about Stroke Recovery in Young People

As a family member, caregiver, or stroke patient, you need to be ready to deal with the fact that stroke recovery is a serious, delicate, and lengthy process. Not only does it demand attention in all developmental areas, but it also comes along with a severe risk of mortality. In a journal published by the National Institute of Health, studies show that “the long-term prognosis for ischemic stroke in the young is better than in the elderly, but the risk of mortality in young adults with ischemic stroke is much higher than in the general population of the same age.” Taking charge of the situation can make a huge difference in ensuring a stroke survivor’s future, and two things in particular have proven to make the greatest improvements:

Put Stroke Survivors in a Position to Succeed and Prevent a Second Attack

After someone suffers a stroke, they will be faced with a tremendous array of challenges that may seem impossible to overcome. They may feel hopeless and unsure of where to begin their recovery, but this is where the diligence and support of others can make all the difference. If a loved one is going to have a successful recovery, they must be put into a position to succeed. This means that they will require a strong system of mental, physical, and emotional support from family and healthcare professionals, and it also means that certain precautions must be put into place to combat future complications. For example, practicing good habits like eating healthy foods, properly managing medication, engaging in physical activity, and monitoring current conditions can greatly lower the risk of a second attack, while improving a survivor’s current state of health. With over a quarter of stroke patients undergoing a second attack within their lifetime, maintaining good habits is essential and combining them with a consistent rehabilitation program is the surest way to generate positive and lasting results.

Address Rehabilitation as Soon as Possible

Instilling good health practices is always something to keep in mind, but what really makes an impact on a person’s recovery is the rehabilitation process. Rehabilitation is important, because it actively fights against the damage a stroke has caused. Stimulation of the muscles and the mind will aid the body in repairing its impaired functions, and over time, abilities that were lost have the potential to resume normal operation. With the help of rehabilitation, a process known as cortical plasticity begins to take place. Also referred to as neuroplasticity, cortical plasticity is the process the brain undergoes in order to form new neural connections, which leads to regained physicality. The sooner this development can begin, the better a patient’s odds of recovery will be, so working with a healthcare professional and setting goals is a top priority.

The 3 Biggest Things You Can Do to Help Young Stroke Survivors

You have to accept that a person is going to be different after a stroke and, no matter how old they are, they are going to face enormous challenges. The recovery process will no doubt be an uphill battle, but there are three things you can do that will drastically improve a young person’s chances of rehabilitation.

1. Keep Them Motivated

One of the issues that a survivor will face during stroke recovery is lethargy, so it’s important for you to impassion and motivate them whenever possible. A great way to do this is to combine their personal interests with their rehabilitation program. For example, if part of their routine is getting dressed in the morning, you can play a favorite song that will motivate them through the process and make it fun. Even the smallest displays of thoughtfulness can go a long way, so do whatever you can to make them feel loved and supported.

2. Help Them Counteract Learned Non-Use

A difficult thing to overcome for any stroke survivor is the process of learned non-use. After a stroke occurs, a person may not be properly able to move their limbs, and if their extremities aren’t exercised on a consistent basis, they are susceptible to atrophy, or muscle degeneration. To combat this issue, daily movements of the affected areas are highly encouraged. A specific method that has shown success in physical recovery is a form of therapy called Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). This technique restrains the healthy limbs while the survivor works at improving use of the damaged ones however, the survivor must meet specific criteria in order to qualify for this approach.

3. Watch Out for the Recovery Plateau Stage

A stroke survivor’s recovery will always have ups and downs, but something to be wary of is the possibility of a loved one experiencing a plateau phase during their rehabilitation. A recovery plateau refers to a period during which a stroke survivor may encounter a slowed progression in their recovery. This can happen especially if a survivor is dealing with severe physical impairments or cognitive disabilities. The most dramatic phases of recovery tend to occur during the first three to six months after a stroke, and this stage is not a given, so take heart in all the successes of that sub-acute phase to maintain enthusiasm and motivation moving forward.

We Can All Help Young Stroke Survivors Help Themselves

Regardless of a survivor’s age or degree of impairment, stroke recovery support should be offered with the utmost patience and care. Nobody can perfectly predict when a stroke will occur or how survivors and their loved ones will react, but anyone can learn how best to handle the situation, to give survivors the help they need. With the information listed above, you can become a source of encouragement for anyone who has experienced a stroke and, more importantly, you can help them regain lost abilities with dignity.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

via Guide to Helping Young People Recovering From a Stroke | Saebo

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[BLOG POST] Recovery After Stroke: 15 Tricks to Recover Faster

Recovery After Stroke

The process of stroke recovery is a long one. It takes hard work and dedication to regain full function. There are no quick-fixes that can make stroke recovery happen overnight; however, certain strategies can help you speed up the process. Curious? Below, we offer a few ways to rise above stroke-driven challenges and fasten the stroke recovery.

  1. Focus on a reason for stroke recovery (such as getting back to work, being able to peruse things you enjoy) and to associate it with your plan of action. This will give you motivational support at all times.
  1. Exercise regularly. To maintain that, set specific and meaningful goals to keep you focused. Take a sheet of paper and write down 3 or more concrete goals (and deadlines to achieve them by), the consequences of not achieving them and the desired benefit/outcome.
  1. Start with passive exercises to rewire the brain and fasten the recovery. This simply means using your non-affected muscles to move your affected muscles. Though you are not “doing it on your own”, you are still rewiring your brain.
  1. Include additional arm support during rehab exercises to avoid the arms becoming weaker due to learned non-use*.
  1. Consistently repeat the exercises and stretches to strengthen the brain-muscle connections. This will activate neuroplasticity to the maximum, and you will see results faster.
  1. Be proactive about working around fatigue, which can drain you physically and mentally. Take time to squeeze in a nap or rest as often as possible to combat the constant drowsiness and return to pre-stroke energy levels.
  1. To combat foot drop after stroke, use assistive equipment (such as foot drop brace) as an aid in rehabilitation. Low-impact strength and stretching leg exercises are good complement to use.
  1. If stroke has left you with “curled toes”, regain strength and movement with a variety of exercises. Include toe taps, floor grips, finger squeezes, and toe-extensor strengthening to make a huge difference in stroke recovery.
  1. Mirror therapy gives neuroplasticity a boost. Place a mirror over your paralyzed limb to ‘trick’ your brain into thinking that you’re moving your affected muscles when it’s merely just a reflection.
  1. Visualize your paralyzed muscles moving – again a great way to activate neuroplasticity. This works in your favor when you combine mental practice with physical practice. Spend time both visualizing your arm moving and doing passive arm exercises (to regain movement in a paralyzed arm).
  1. Stay stress free whenever possible. When stress begins to take hold, cortisol (a hormone) floods the body, causing pH levels to become imbalanced with acidity. This can ultimately weaken your immune system. Eating a natural probiotic like yogurt, practicing yoga and deep breathing can limit cortisol levels, sustaining your body for speedy stroke recovery.
  1. Depression after stroke often slows the recovery process and sometimes intervenes as a roadblock. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms, to get them treated with prescription antidepressants or therapy. Eat healthy food for improved mental health.
  1. Watch out for the recovery plateau stage. Here are 6 ways to get past Plateau after stroke.
  1. Understand and combat memory loss after stroke. Incorporate technology into daily rehab exercises to show quick improvements. Use smartphones to set reminders, schedule appointments, and overseeing your functional performance.
  1. Sleep at least 7 hours a night, and more when you need it. It will help you fasten movement recovery by turning the short-term memory from the day’s rehab exercises into long-term memory.

via Recovery After Stroke: 15 Tricks to Recover Faster – 9zest

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[BLOG POST] At Home Leg Exercises For Stroke Recovery Patients – Saebo

Reclaim Mobility With Leg Exercises For Stroke Recovery

Stroke recovery can be a long process. Managing the ongoing need to rebuild bodily control and strength after neurological damage is no easy task. Each year nearly 800,000 people in the United States alone will suffer from a stroke, leaving them with ongoing physical and neurological damage.

If you have suffered from a stroke, loss of balance and control can make standing and walking difficult. While outpatient stroke recovery therapy is vital to improving this problem, you can also continue improving after returning home with the help of these leg exercises for stroke recovery.

Leg Exercises for Stroke Recovery

Richard Sealy, director of The Rehab Practice, a private neuro-therapy rehabilitation program in the United Kingdom, regularly works with individuals, families, and caregivers to establish custom exercise routines to aid in recovery from from long-term neurological problems, like the damage caused by stroke. While he acknowledges that each patient should have a custom exercise routine specific and personal to their struggles, he recommends a series of exercises to help strengthen the legs and improve range of motion during stroke recovery.

Sealy understands the importance of fast progress after a stroke, and including ongoing at-home exercises can improve health and well-being. These low-impact strength and stretching leg exercises for stroke recovery are a good complement to use in conjunction with the Saebo MyoTrac Infiniti biofeedback system.

As with any exercise program, please consult your healthcare provider before you begin. If you notice increased pain, discomfort, or other troubling systems, stop these exercises immediately and talk to your doctor.

Exercise #1 – Standing and Balance

Balance and coordination are often lost after a stroke. This can make simple actions, like standing and walking,
difficult. In addition, weakness can occur around the muscles on the exterior of the hip area.

Exercises for standing and balance are vital to helping you regain your quality of life after a stroke. When performing these exercises, always hold onto a table or similar stable surface to avoid a fall.

 

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Basic Level Standing and Balance Exercise

Hold on to a stable surface, standing straight and tall while you transfer your weight to one side. Swing the other leg to the side. Use your balance to hold this position for 10 seconds. Slowly lower your leg back down. Repeat a few times, as long as you have the strength, and then switch legs.

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Intermediate Standing and Balance Exercises

Once you have mastered the first exercise, move on to the intermediate level. Again, hold on to a stable surface, keeping your back tall and straight. Transfer your weight to one leg, and bring the other leg up in front of you, bending the knee. Hold this position for a count of 10, and slowly lower it back down. Repeat, then switch legs.

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Advanced Standing and Balance Exercises

Finally, progress to the advanced level. This time, stand straight and tall and transfer your weight to one leg. Swing the other leg out behind you as far as you can. Hold for 10 seconds, if you can, and lower it back down slowly. Repeat and switch legs.

This progression of exercises will strengthen the hip muscle and improve balance, so you can regain normal use of your legs. This exercise series pairs well with the Saebo MayoTrac Infiniti biofeedback triggered stimulation system.

 

Exercise #2 – Bridging

Often after a stroke, the hips and the core muscle groups, which are crucial to standing and walking, become weak. Bridging exercises help to strengthen these core muscles. Like the standing and balance exercises, bridging exercises move through a progression to help rebuild your strength and coordination.

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Basic Bridging Exercise

The basic bridging exercise, called “Inner Range Quad Movement”, builds strength in the thigh muscles. To perform this exercise, lay down and place a pillow or rolled towel under the knee joint. Then, press the back of the knee into the pillow or rolled towel to lift your heel off the floor.

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Intermediate Bridging Exercise

“Ski Squats” take bridging exercises to the next level. For this exercise, lean against a flat wall, placing your feet in front of you. Using the wall to support your weight and your back, slowly bend your knees to lower yourself down. Hold this position for 10 seconds, if you can. Slide back up, supporting your weight on the wall, until you are in a standing position.

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Advanced Bridging Exercise

To take bridging exercises to the advanced level, repeat the “Ski Squat”, but place a gym ball between yourself and the wall when you bend your knees into the squat position.

 

Exercise #3 – Clams

If the lower legs are affected after a stroke, Clams can provide strengthening and improved range of motion. Clams focuses on building strength and coordination in the lower leg, increasing range of motion and control.

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Basic Clams Exercise – In Sitting

Before starting Clams, you must stretch the calf muscle and build coordination in the lower body. In Sitting helps with this. In a sitting position, create a stirrup around one foot using a towel or belt, placing the stirrup around the ball of the foot. Gently pull the stirrup up towards your body to stretch the calf muscle. Then, pull it with the outer hand to turn the foot out, continuing to stretch the muscle.

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Intermediate Clams Exercise

Once you have build some flexibility, you are ready for the Clams exercise. Lay down on your side, and bend your knees, resting one on top of the other. Then, while you keep your feet together, lift the upper knee away from the other knee, holding them apart for a count of 10 seconds. Slowly lower your knee back down. While performing this exercise, make sure that you do not roll your hips back.

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Advanced Clams Exercise

After mastering Clams, take it to the next level by lifting the knee and the foot of the upper leg. Again, hold the position for a count of 10 seconds. Lower it back down. Repeat a few times to build strength and range of motion.

Rebuild Strength and Coordination with Stroke Recovery Exercises

Strokes can occur in people of any age, although nearly 75% of all strokes occur after the age of 65, and an individual’s risk doubles after 55. Each year, approximately 600,000 people suffer from their first stroke, and an additional 185,000 have a recurrent stroke.

If you have suffered one or more strokes, it can be easy to feel discouraged at the lack of mobility and control you experience. Stroke exercises, like these, can help you regain that control and build up your strength again, so you can recover from the neurological damage of a stroke.

For extra support in advancing your recovery after a stroke, check out the many advanced products from Saebo to help you every step of the way.

Which Product is Right for Me?

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[ARTICLE] Shaping neuroplasticity by using powered exoskeletons in patients with stroke: a randomized clinical trial – Full Text

Abstract

Background

The use of neurorobotic devices may improve gait recovery by entraining specific brain plasticity mechanisms, which may be a key issue for successful rehabilitation using such approach. We assessed whether the wearable exoskeleton, Ekso™, could get higher gait performance than conventional overground gait training (OGT) in patients with hemiparesis due to stroke in a chronic phase, and foster the recovery of specific brain plasticity mechanisms.

Methods

We enrolled forty patients in a prospective, pre-post, randomized clinical study. Twenty patients underwent Ekso™ gait training (EGT) (45-min/session, five times/week), in addition to overground gait therapy, whilst 20 patients practiced an OGT of the same duration. All individuals were evaluated about gait performance (10 m walking test), gait cycle, muscle activation pattern (by recording surface electromyography from lower limb muscles), frontoparietal effective connectivity (FPEC) by using EEG, cortico-spinal excitability (CSE), and sensory-motor integration (SMI) from both primary motor areas by using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation paradigm before and after the gait training.

Results

A significant effect size was found in the EGT-induced improvement in the 10 m walking test (d = 0.9, p < 0.001), CSE in the affected side (d = 0.7, p = 0.001), SMI in the affected side (d = 0.5, p = 0.03), overall gait quality (d = 0.8, p = 0.001), hip and knee muscle activation (d = 0.8, p = 0.001), and FPEC (d = 0.8, p = 0.001). The strengthening of FPEC (r = 0.601, p < 0.001), the increase of SMI in the affected side (r = 0.554, p < 0.001), and the decrease of SMI in the unaffected side (r = − 0.540, p < 0.001) were the most important factors correlated with the clinical improvement.

Conclusions

Ekso™ gait training seems promising in gait rehabilitation for post-stroke patients, besides OGT. Our study proposes a putative neurophysiological basis supporting Ekso™ after-effects. This knowledge may be useful to plan highly patient-tailored gait rehabilitation protocols.

Background

Most of the patients with stroke experience a restriction of their mobility. Gait impairment after stroke mainly depends on deficits in functional ambulation capacity, balance, walking velocity, cadence, stride length, and muscle activation pattern, resulting in a longer gait cycle duration and lower than normal stance/swing ratio in the affected side, paralleled by a shorter gait cycle duration and a higher than normal stance/swing ratio in the unaffected side [1].

Conventional gait training often offers non-completely satisfactory results. Specifically, patients with stroke receiving intensive gait training with or without body weight support (BWS) may not improve in walking ability more than those who are not receiving the same treatment (with the exception of walking speed and endurance) [2345]. Moreover, only patients with stroke who are able to walk benefit most from such an intervention [2345]. Therefore, there is growing effort to increase the efficacy of gait rehabilitation for stroke patients by using advanced technical devices. Neurorobotic devices, including robotic-assisted gait training (RAGT) with BWS, result in a more likely achievement of independent walking when coupled with overground gait training (OGT) in patients with stroke. Specifically, RAGT combined with OGT has an additional beneficial effect on functional ambulation outcomes, although depending on the duration and intensity of RAGT [67]. Further, RAGT requires a more active subject participation in gait training as compared to the traditional OGT, which is a vital feature of gait rehabilitation [78].

Even though no substantial differences have been reported among the different types of RAGT devices [9], a main problem with neurorobotic devices is the provision for the patient of a real-world setting ambulation [1011]. To this end, wearable powered exoskeletons, e.g., the Ekso™ (Ekso™ Bionics, Richmond, CA, USA), have been designed to improve OGT in neurologic patients.

Notwithstanding, the efficacy of wearable powered exoskeletons in improving functional ambulation capacity (including gait pattern, step length, walking speed and endurance, balance and coordination) has not been definitively proven, and any further benefit in terms of gait performance remains to be confirmed. However, a recent study showed that Ekso™ could improve functional ambulation capacity in patients with sub-acute and chronic stroke [12]. Therefore, a first aim of our study was to assess whether Ekso™ is useful in improving functional ambulation capacity and gait performance in chronic post-stroke patients compared to conventional OGT.

The neurophysiologic mechanisms harnessed by powered exoskeletons to favor the recovery of functional ambulation capacity are still unclear. It is argued that the efficacy of neurorobotics in improving functional ambulation capacity depends on the high frequency and intensity of repetition of task-oriented movements [13]. This could guarantee a potentially stronger entrainment of the neuroplasticity mechanisms related to motor learning and function recovery following brain injury, including sensorimotor plasticity, frontoparietal effective connectivity (FPEC), and transcallosal inhibition, as compared to conventional therapy [141516]. Moreover, the generation and strengthening of new connections supporting the learned behaviors, and the steady recruitment of these neural connections as preferential to the learned behaviors occur through these mechanisms, thus making the re-learned abilities long lasting [131417181920212223].

Such neurophysiologic mechanisms have been tested in neurorobotic rehabilitation using stationary exoskeletons (e.g. Lokomat™) [1314]. Therefore, the second aim of our study was to assess whether there are specific neurophysiological mechanisms (among those related to sensorimotor plasticity, FPEC, and transcallosal inhibition) by which Ekso™ improves functional ambulation capacity in the chronic post-stroke phase. The importance of knowing these mechanisms is remarkable in order to implement patient-tailored rehabilitative training, given that any further advance in motor function recovery mainly relies on motor rehabilitation training, whereas spontaneous motor recovery occurs within 6 months of a stroke [24]. This is also the reason why we focused our study on patients with chronic stroke.[…}

 

Continue —> Shaping neuroplasticity by using powered exoskeletons in patients with stroke: a randomized clinical trial | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

Fig. 2 Ekso™ device

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