Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Repairing the Stroke-Damaged Brain

By Emily Singer

A simple, inexpensive device that delivers electrical current to the brain noninvasively could help stroke patients recover lost motor ability. According to a new study, the treatment--transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)--in combination with occupational therapy boosted recovery better than either treatment on its own.

Many patients spontaneously recover some function in the weeks and months after suffering a stroke, as their brains reorganize to compensate for the damaged area. Scientists are searching for ways to both boost and focus this innate plasticity, thus improving neural repair. Electrical activity is one option under study: electrical current applied to the brain can modulate brain-cell activity--a crucial component of neural remodeling.

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