Royal South Hants Minor Injuries Unit
Royal South Hants Minor Injuries Unit

Stroke recovery time could be reduced

October 27 2016

Research is underway to increase the speed of a victim’s recovery after a stroke.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply that carries oxygen and nutrients to part of the brain is blocked by a clot or through the bursting of a blood vessel.

According to the Stroke Association, a stroke occurs in the UK every 3 minutes and 27 seconds. 1 in 8 strokes are fatal within the first 30 days and 3 in 10 stroke survivors will go on to have a recurrent stroke.

The effects of a stroke are different for every person. Some will have relatively minor effects and recover quickly, while others may be left with more serious issues that affect areas such as their vision, movement, bladder and bowel control, and language (known as aphasia) resulting in difficulty in reading, speaking and awareness.

Dr Magdalena Sliwinska, a researcher in stroke brain recovery at Imperial College London, has conducted a two-part study researching into the importance of certain brain networks in language learning and language recovery in post-stroke aphasia, otherwise known as language dysfunction:

“We have been focusing on a part of the brain which is known to be responsible for numerous functions such as attention or cognitive control. These functions are necessary for carrying out more specific tasks such as reading a book or playing a piano. Our study has shown that this part of the brain also plays a central role in language learning.”

During the two-part study of healthy individuals, Dr Sliwinska discovered that when stimulation was applied to this area of the brain, there was an increase in the rate of learning:

“Overall, our study demonstrated the importance of this brain region during learning and will aid any future study in post-stroke aphasia, to find out whether stimulation of this brain region improves vocabulary re-learning after aphasic stroke. If positive, this could help us to develop new methods of rehabilitation for these patients; rehabilitation that is not based on drugs.”

Marjorie Gillespie, Medical Director at Care UK, tells us what to look out for if you suspect someone may be having a stroke: “Knowing the symptoms to look out for is important. Facial weakness, has their face fallen on one side? Arm weakness, can they raise their arms and keep them in the air? Speech problems, can you understand what they’re saying or is their speech slurred? If someone has any of these symptoms then 999 should be called immediately.”

Marjorie continued to say how stroke prevention can be increased through a healthy lifestyle:

 “Most strokes can be prevented, or at least the risk of having a stroke can be reduced, through the simple act of living a healthy lifestyle. Stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, eating a healthy diet and doing more exercise, are all ways for us to live healthier lives in general while reducing the risk of a stroke.

“Sadly, some people never fully recover after having a stroke which is not only devastating for the survivor but also for the family. And while it is great to know research is underway in helping stroke victims recover quicker, if we can live healthier lives with the aim of preventing strokes, we will also be preventing other illnesses too such as heart disease and improving mental wellbeing.”

To find out more about Dr Sliwinska , her research and the possibility of taking part in her research, please visit http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/m.sliwinska .   To find out more about strokes and reducing your risk of a stroke please visit https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-stroke .