Stem Cells Could Further Repair the Brain Following a Stroke

First Posted: Feb 14, 2014 12:11 PM EST

Current treatments for patients who suffer serious strokes have the ability to restore mobility in the victims' hands as well as other body parts that are affected. However, the treatment does not extend to helping those with weakness on one side of the body or victims that are permanently disabled.

Physical and occupational therapists can guide most stroke victims through a regimen and give them the ability to fully regain voluntary movements in their fingers, hands, arms and other individual body parts. It's all achieved through Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy, which forces the use of the affected side by restraining the unaffected side. To read more about stroke treatment, visit the American Stroke Association website.

Now, thanks to a recent study, some movements and mobility restraints could be solved through stem cell therapy in the brain. Michael Chopp, Ph.D., is Scientific Director of the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute and has made early discoveries in terms of enhancing the brain's inherent ability to rebuild itself after a stroke. He presented his findings today at the American Heart Association's International Stroke Conference in San Diego.

Molecular components of stem cells may hold the answer for victims who suffer from weakness on one side of the body or other disabilities that cannot be mended through physical therapy.

"Even in older people, the central nervous system is highly plastic, meaning it has a unique ability to change and rebuild itself," said Dr. Chopp in this EurekAlert! article. "We have demonstrated that this plasticity can be stimulated to promote neurological recovery after a stroke."

One such therapy administers tPA, a protein called tissue plasminogen activator, with a nasal spray. This protein has the ability to rewire the brain's neural cables and communications network, which would be a step towards syncing the body with the mind to regain lost movements. Additionally, Dr. Chopp said that another type of stem cell called an exosome has the ability to offer an effective treatment for patients that are experiencing crippling effects.

More of Dr. Chopp's study, along with notable facts from his speech today, can be found in this EurekAlert! article.

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