Hot topics in health: Scientists explore how treating uninjured side of the brain can promote stroke recovery
When a PR crisis hits, there is an undeniable value in considering the many ways to approach and rectify the crisis. While there is almost always an obvious option that involves tackling the issue head on, it is important to consider how redirecting attention to related aspects of the issue may be just as influential in solving a problem.
This is precisely the kind of strategy that is being recommended by a growing number of scientists in regards to treating stroke patients.
According to researchers, while a great deal of stroke recovery usually tends to focus on the damaged part of the brain, there is reason to believe that it may be greatly beneficial to redirect some of that attention to the uninjured areas.
The theory stems from the hypothesis that the uninjured side of the brain plays a more active role in recovery than is commonly believed. This includes the release of growth factors that prompt the growth of new blood vessels to the stroke site, which can provide the damaged region with much needed blood and oxygen, and create a “regenerative niche” to minimize stroke damage. Being able to regulate this new blood vessel growth in the undamaged side of the brain can be crucial to establishing a nutritive environment for recovery.
Another major component considered by scientists is that, after a stroke, the undamaged side of the brain likely takes on more responsibility to compensate for the lack of performance on the damaged side. According to Dr. Susan C. Fagan, stroke pharmacist at MCG and the University of Georgia, “within a few days of a stroke, the non-damaged side becomes more active and starts taking up, we think, some of the functions of the damaged side. If you do functional MRIs in humans, you can see other hemispheres starting to light up more in the recovery phase within a few days of stroke.”
As researchers continue exploring this approach more thoroughly, the goal is to understand how remote impact caused by connections within the brain can not only affect patients of stroke, but a variety of other brain injuries and conditions, as well.
Do you think it’s just as important to focus attention on the undamaged side of the brain as it is to address the damaged side of the brain in cases like stroke? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi