About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Vagus Nerve Stimulation- a Boost on the Road to Stroke Recovery

by Rishika Gupta on March 28, 2018 at 1:38 PM
Font : A-A+

 Vagus Nerve Stimulation- a Boost on the Road to Stroke Recovery

Vagus nerve stimulation may help boost the recovery of motor skills after the stroke, finds a new study. The findings of this study are published in the Stroke journal.

This method can help speed up the process of motor skill recovery after a stroke by helping the brain reorganize itself more quickly.

Advertisement


In a preclinical study, the scientists paired vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) with a physical therapy task aimed at improving the function of an upper limb in rodents. The results showed a doubled long-term recovery rate relative to current therapy methods, not only in the targeted task but also in similar muscle movements that were not specifically rehabbed.

A clinical trial to test the technique in humans is underway in Dallas and 15 other sites across the country.

Dr. Michael Kilgard, associate director of the Texas Biomedical Device Center (TxBDC) and Margaret Forde Jonsson Professor of Neuroscience in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, led the research team with Dr. Seth Hays, the TxBDC director of preclinical research and assistant professor of bioengineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and postdoctoral researcher Eric Meyers PhD'17.
Advertisement

"Our experiment was designed to ask this new question: After a stroke, do you have to rehabilitate every single action?" Kilgard said. "If VNS helps you, is it only helping with the exact motion or function you paired with stimulation? What we found was that it also improves similar motor skills as well and that those results were sustained months beyond the completion of VNS-paired therapy."

Kilgard said the results provide an important step toward creating guidelines for standardized usage of VNS for post-stroke therapy.

"This study tells us that if we use this approach on complicated motor skills, those improvements can filter down to improve simpler movements," he said.

The principle behind this study

  • When a stroke occurs, nerve cells in the brain can die due to lack of blood flow. An arm's or a leg's motor skills fail because, though the nerve cells in the limb are fine, there's no longer a connection between them and the brain.
  • Established rehab methods bypass the brain's damaged area and enlist other brain cells to handle the lost functions. However, there aren't many neurons to spare, so the patient has a long-lasting movement deficit.
  • The vagus nerve controls the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees elements of many unconscious body functions, including digestion and circulation.
  • Electrical stimulation of the nerve is achieved via an implanted device in the neck. Already used in humans to treat depression and epilepsy, VNS is a well-documented technique for fine-tuning brain function.
The UT Dallas study's application of VNS strengthens the communication path to the neurons that are taking over for those damaged by stroke. The experiments showed a threefold-to-fivefold increase in engaged neurons when adding VNS to rehab.

"We have long hypothesized that VNS is making new connections in the brain, but nothing was known for sure," Hays said. "This is the first evidence that we are driving changes in the brain in animals after brain injury. It's a big step forward in understanding how the therapy works -- this reorganization that we predicted would underlie the benefits of VNS."

In anticipation of the technique's eventual use in humans, the team is working on an at-home rehab system targeting the upper limbs.

"We've designed a tablet app outlining hand and arm tasks for patients to interact with, delivering VNS as needed," Meyers said. "We can very precisely assess their performance and monitor recovery remotely. This is all doable at home."

Expanding the Possibilities for Therapy

The researchers are motivated in part by an understanding of the practical limitations of current therapeutic options for patients.

"If you have a stroke, you may have a limited time with a therapist," Hays said. "So when we create guidelines for a therapist, we now know to advise doing one complex activity as many times as possible, as opposed to a variety of activities. That was an important finding -- it was exciting that not only do we improve the task that we trained on, but also relatively similar tasks. You are getting generalization to related things, and you're getting sustained improvement months down the line."

For stroke patients, the opportunity to benefit from this technology may not be far off.

"A clinical trial that started here at UTD is now running nationwide, including at UT Southwestern," Kilgard said. "They are recruiting patients. People in Dallas can enroll now -- which is only fitting, because this work developed here, down to publishing this in a journal of the American Heart Association, which is based here in Dallas. This is a homegrown effort.

"The ongoing clinical trial is the last step in getting approved as an established therapy," Kilgard said. "We're hoping within a year of having this be standard practice for chronic stroke."

Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Top 7 Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene
Healthy and Safer Thanksgiving 2021
Long-Term Glycemic Control - A Better Measure of COVID-19 Severity
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Bell´s Palsy Diet Lifestyle and Heart Disease Mitral Valve Stenosis And Mitral Valve Replacement Congenital Heart Disease Stress and the Gender Divide Stroke Facts Stroke Hyperventilation Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Aphasia 

Recommended Reading
Nerve Stimulation in Vagus Nerve Restores Consciousness in Man After 15 Years
Stimulating the vagus nerve which links two regions known to play roles in alertness and ......
Management of Traumatic Brain Injury Through Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation
Research findings could have implications for the treatment of many neurological conditions, ......
Nerve Stimulation Effective Against Overactive Bladder: Study
A new study has suggested that tibial nerve stimulation helps ease symptoms of overactive bladder, ....
Novel Approach for Vagus Nerve Stimulation Treatment
Forms of vagus nerve stimulation treatment have already been successfully tested in humans by ......
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Find out more about the degenerative disease- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis....
Aphasia
Aphasia is a condition where the patient has a language disorder. The patient has problems with comp...
Congenital Heart Disease
Heart diseases that are present at birth are called “ Congenital heart diseases”....
Hyperventilation
Hyperventilation occurs when a person breathes in excess to the body’s requirement....
Mitral Valve Stenosis And Mitral Valve Replacement
Mitral valve replacement is a surgical heart procedure to correct either the narrowing (stenosis) or...
Stress and the Gender Divide
Stress has become entwined in the current lifestyle of a young working couple and has resulted in th...
Stroke
Stroke can cause permanent disability and it is important to recognize its early warning signs to st...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use