In a nutshell
This study investigated the effectiveness of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) in treating stroke survivors. Researchers suggested that VNS is associated with a positive response in patients with more severe disease.
Each year, around 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke. It happens when the blood flow to the brain stops due to a blood clot or a hemorrhage. Brain cells lose their abilities to control the functions of the body causing symptoms such as arm spasticity (stiffness).
VNS consists of activating the vagus nerve (neck) responsible for a variety of tasks including muscle control. In VNS electrical impulses are delivered to the nerve, decreasing the stiffness of the muscles. Combining this therapy with arm rehabilitation training has been shown to improve recovery in stroke survivors. However, recovery after stroke varies, so it is important to identify those most likely to respond to this therapy. This can be done through clinical and brain imaging (MRI) factors such as age or brain volume.
Methods & findings
This study included information about 37 stroke patients with arm disability. These patients were assigned to receive 6-week physiotherapy with or without a VNS program.
Patients who received VNS had greater improvements at day-1 after therapy when compared to no-VNS. Brain hyperintensity volume was associated with less improvement in the no-VNS group. Patients in the VNS group who responded to treatment had a more severe disability at the beginning than the no-VNS group.
The bottom line
This study concluded that VNS improves the outcomes of patients with more severe arm disability after stroke.
The fine print
This study included a limited number of participants. A larger study is underway.
Published By :
Nov 04, 2019