Having had two members of my family suffer slightly different debilitating cognitive/speech effects from strokes, I’m intrigued when I hear of promising studies. Now British scientists have done work with mice that shows just that—a promising idea for a treatment given a few days after a stroke, rather than rushing to inject a blood-clot-busting drug ASAP, might prevent/reverse some of the damage done in affected areas of the brain.
Strokes cause damage by brain cells being starved of oxygen due to a blocked or burst blood vessel. As a result, the affected cells start to die. But it’s known that the brain has the ability to regenerate lost connections via the cells immediately surrounding the damaged area and thus compensate for and/or limit the damage to some degree.
Researchers found a build-up at the stroke site of a molecule called GABA appeared to slow activity in the surrounding cells at the very time they would be called on to work at making new connections.
Significantly, the drug they tested that limited the effects of GABA worked best when given about three days after the stroke (at least in the mice). No one’s yet saying this will work for humans, but it does sound well worth pursuing further.
Anything that could help restore a patient’s ability to write (what my mom lost) or to remember how to play an instrument and sing the words to songs he always knew (my brother’s loss) is worth investigating as far as possible.