Non-invasive brain stimulation helps stroke patients gain prolonged language recovery

Strokes occur when a brain clot blocks blood flow in parts of the brain, essentially starving groups of neurons of oxygen, which is necessary for normal function. Nearly 130,000 of the 795,000 strokes Americans suffer annually result in death, accounting for roughly 5% of deaths in the U.S. The remaining 665,000 stroke patients suffer a wide variety of side effects ranging from complete loss of motor function to loss of speech to a catatonic state. Because of the horrific nature of these cerebrovascular events and their consequences, many clinical researchers focus on prevention, rehabilitation and restoration of function for stroke victims.

A technique developed through these efforts utilises transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to improve language function in stroke patients with chronic aphasia. Patients who have undergone this procedure have previously reached a plateau in their ability to produce fluent language, despite signs of understanding and frustration at their inability to communicate.

‘The heart of our work is to use non-invasive brain stimulation