August 26, 2008

New Technique May Reverse Stroke

A new technique that jumpstarts the growth of nerve fibers may have the potential to restore function to patients weeks after a stroke, U.S. researchers said.

Dr. Gwendolyn Kartje of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill., said if a stroke patient doesn't get treatment within approximately the first three hours of symptoms, there's not much doctors can do to limit damage to the brain.

"In the best-case scenario, this would open up the window of time that people could recover and go back to normal functional status," Kartje said in a statement.

Anti nogo -- a protein that inhibits the growth of nerve fibers called axons -- "offers the potential for stroke patients to recover, return to nearly normal functional status, and stay out of nursing homes."

A stroke on the left side of the brain can cause paralysis on the right side of the body. In such a patient, anti-nogo therapy would, it's hoped, spur the growth of axons from the healthy right side of the brain.

These axons would then grow into the right side of the body and restore functions lost by the stroke.

The findings are published in the journal Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation.