According to international studies conducted in London and Adelaide, the ability of the human brain to recover and rewire after a stroke peaks after about two weeks and declines over time.
The results are published in Nerve rehabilitation and nerve repair, This study followed the recovery of 60 stroke patients up to 1 year after stroke.
Lead author Dr. Brenton Hodakre University of South Australia The multi-site study said it provided conclusive evidence that the brain had only a small window of opportunity to repair itself more easily after a stroke.
“Previous animal studies have suggested this to be the case, but this is the first time we have definitively demonstrated that this phenomenon exists in humans,” said Dr. Hordacre.
Researchers scanned the brains of stroke survivors when they recovered over 12 months. They found that in the first few days after an ischemic stroke (caused by the obstruction of arteries to the brain), the brain has a greater ability to alter its neural connections and its plasticity increases.
“Physical therapy is most effective during this early period after a stroke, because the brain is more sensitive to treatment,” said Dr. Hordacre.
Researchers used continuous transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) to repeatedly activate various hemispheres of the motor cortex and measure brain plasticity.
The Adelaide Institute tested the motor cortex damaged by stroke, a major area of motor control. The London Institute has tested a hemisphere with an undamaged stroke. This is also important to help with recovery.
“Our assessment showed that the undamaged motor cortex had the strongest plasticity about two weeks after the stroke. Contrary to what we expected, it was damaged in response to cTBS. There was no change in the hemisphere, “said Dr. Hordacre.
Dr. Hordacre said the findings confirm the importance of starting treatment as soon as possible after a stroke. Current evidence shows that less than 8 minutes of daily treatment is spent on upper limb recovery within the first 4 weeks of stroke.
“To help recover after a stroke, we need to provide more treatment within this short period of time. The next step is to identify techniques for prolonging or resuming the period of increased brain plasticity. Allows you to maximize recovery, “says Dr. Hordacre.
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