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Science and Technology

Brain stimulation seems to be helping stroke victims

Clinical trials are underway in Cincinnati and nationwide that could prove brain stimulation is beneficial to stroke victims.

The stimulation is actually turning off a part of the brain

As confusing as it sounds, the 1 hz "stimulation" actually shuts down the side of the brain unaffected by the stroke. This is because the non-lesioned side often takes over and hinders recovery.

Kari Dunning, PT, PhD, an associate professor and epidemiologist in the College of Allied Health, and her staff deliver the 15 minute doses of stimulation three times a week for six weeks to patients participating. "We stimulate the unlesioned side to shut it down and then we send them right into rehabilitation to activate the lesioned side because we're making them use their affected arm."

Picture a dentist type chair with the stimulator wand attached to a computer. The technology is from Nexstim. The patient wears ear plugs and must lay still and be relaxed for 15 minutes. All the while the magnetic stimulation, at the end of a wand and connected to a computer with the patient's MRI, turns into an electrical impulse in the brain. The stimulated neurons go all the way down the spinal pathway down the arm and move the hand.

Dunning hopes to recruit 25 people at the Cincinnati site. Eleven other sites across the country are participating. For more information about participating in the NICHE trial, contact netlab@uc.edu or call 513-558-7487.