In the 'Journal of Neuroscience' the researchers present the results of their study, showing how a local anesthetic can distinctly improve the motor skills of patients after a stroke.
"Many stroke patients suffer from chronic impairment of the hand or of the complete arm," Professor Dr. Thomas Weiss explains. Together with expert colleagues the psychologist of the department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Jena University has been working for a number of years on a specialized medical training therapy which clearly enhances the mobility of stroke patients. In the 'Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy' (CIMT) the healthy arm is being restrained in a cuff, while the stroke-affected arm and hand are intensely training fine motor skills. Patients are asked to carry out tasks such as stacking small toy blocks or putting tiny pins into a perforated board. Daily activities like washing one's hand are part of the training. "Nearly every affected person benefits from this training," Weiss's colleague Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Miltner says. The chair of Biological and Clinical Psychology developed the therapy together with American colleagues and refers to the comprehensive study results about the efficiency of the program. "We are happy to carry out this therapy on many patients - together with our colleagues from the psychology department in the neurological day hospital," the director of the clinic for Neurology, Prof. Dr. Otto Witte, stresses.
In addition, the impact of the exercise therapy could be clearly enhanced when the sensitivity of the affected arm was lowered by an anesthetic, as the interdisciplinary Jena team was able to demonstrate. In their study, the scientists examined 36 patients. Half of the patients had a local anesthetic cream applied on their forearms. Meanwhile the other patient group only received a placebo. Afterwards, both patient groups went into their exercise therapy for a day.
"Unsurprisingly, the motor performance of all patients was strongly enhanced," Prof. Weiss commented on the result. "Beyond that, it became obvious that the patients who received the anesthetic benefited even more than the placebo group," Weiss says. The researchers could show the reason for this effect using magnetoencephalographic imaging (MEG) of the patients. The temporary interruption of nerve impulses from the forearm leads to a decreasing activity in the brain areas processing these impulses. "At the same time neighboring brain cells are activated more strongly," the Jena Psychologist explains. Thus the brain reacts to the missing impulses from the forearm with an increased sensitivity in the hand as the MEG images showed. Consequently the motor performance improves as well. "This process starts within minutes," Thomas Weiss says.
A subsequent study is going to show whether the combination of local anesthetics and therapeutic exercise will improve the mobility of stroke patients in the long term.
Sens E. et al.: Effects of Temporary Functional Deafferentation on the Brain, Sensation, and Behavior of Stroke Patients, Journal of Neuroscience Vol. 32 (34): 11773-11779, DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5912-11.2012
Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena: http://www.uni-jena.de
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Bald eagles have made a comeback. See life in the nest now during peak nesting season.
Photos capture a river otter attacking a gator in a Florida river. The otter then feasted, witnesses say.
The 10-meter long Torvosaurus weighed up to five tons.
Researchers say the key to fighting superbugs is individualized treatment plans, and a new nanochip might pave the way
Some farmers have long sworn by mellow tunes to boost Bessie's milk production. The science is hardly conclusive. But a study hints at what might top the barnyard playlist. (Psst: They liked R.E.M.)
Craig Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome over a decade ago and created synthetic life in 2010, is now on a quest to treat age-related disease.
Dr Dave Hone: The Daohugou Fauna is rich in dinosaurs, lizards, pterosaurs, salamanders and mammalsDr Dave Hone
Suppressing a hormone that governs metabolism boosts your chances of living to a grand old age, but there's a downside
Scientists say it is unlikely that any fish can survive in the oceans deeper than about 8,200m.
The discovery of a previously unknown "giant virus" from 30,000 years ago in the Siberian permafrost is bringing researchers closer to understanding the complexity of viruses.