AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Window of Stroke Recovery Can Re-Open in Mice

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Using mice whose front paws were still partly disabled after an initial induced stroke, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported that by inducing a second stroke nearby in their brains, researchers were able to “rehab” the animals to successfully grab food pellets with those paws at pre-stroke efficiency. The results of the study, published in the journal Neurohabilitation and Neural Repair, showed that the window of opportunity for recovering motor function after stroke isn’t permanently closed after earlier brain damage, and can potentially re-open under certain conditions (in conjunction with rehabilitation efforts). The researchers strongly emphasized that their experiments do not and will never make a case for inducing strokes as a therapy in people with disability. But they do suggest the mammalian brain may be far more “plastic” in such patients, and that safe and ethical ways might be found to better exploit that plasticity and reopen the recovery window for people who have never fully regained control of their motor movements. “If we can better understand how to reopen or extend the optimal recovery period after a stroke, then we might indeed change how we treat patients for the better,” said an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins. “Our study adds new strong and convincing evidence that there is a sensitive period following stroke where it’s easiest to re-learn motor movements — a topic that is still debated among stroke researchers.” To read more about this study, click here.

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