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.
About once a year, Florida harvester ants dig new nests, a mystery entomologists are eager to get to the bottom of.
The finding that male homosexuality has a strong genetic component should be a boon for gay rights – but it could backfire
Alan Turing, the man who pioneered computing, also forced the world to question what it means to be human
During sleep, the brain locks in existing memories and can even form new ones. Scientists say they are starting to understand how that happens. A midnight snack may interfere.
They walk among us. Natural experiments, living ordinary lives, unaware that their genes may hold the clue to the next superdrug.
A crowd at the Santa Barbara Zoo got a pleasant surprise when its latest star attraction, a baby giraffe, came out for a jaunt
A massive white matter tract at the back of the brain, overlooked for the past century, might be crucial for skills such as reading.
An award-winning book on optical illusions explains the science of tricking your brain.
Scientists investigating a huge die-off of starfish along North America's Pacific coast have identified a virus they say is responsible for a calamitous wasting disease that has wiped out millions of the creatures since it first appeared last year.
After 43,000 years in the Siberian permafrost, the remains of a mammoth may contain enough DNA to recreate the beast's genome