After suffering a stroke, the road to recovery can be filled with numerous obstacles and challenges. Fatigue, depression, difficulties communicating and a host of other issues can arise after the blood supply to a region of the brain falters. When it comes to rehabilitation planning and success, age, stroke severity and medical history can all play a big role.
Because so many patients never fully recover after a stroke, two University of Minnesota research teams have set out to find new solutions. They aim to help make life after stroke healthier and restore function lost to stroke.
There have been numerous advances in acute stroke care and in preventive therapies after stroke. Yet despite these improvements, a recent University of Minnesota study found there is still room for improvement in reducing the rate of stroke patients re-admitted to the hospital.
In fact, the study discovered that one year after a stroke, an astounding 49 percent of patients end up back in the hospital with an acute illness. Worse, 24 percent of stroke patients pass away within a year of their stroke. The statistics paint a portrait of a nation that can, and should, do better.
According to the CDC, stroke is a leading cause of death, killing 130,000 Americans each year and the number one cause of long-term disability. The statistics are grim, and a clear sign that more progress is needed across a number of promising research areas.
At the University of Minnesota, experts think advances in imaging may be key to unlocking some of the secrets to earlier detection of stroke and more effective testing to determine which patients are at risk of suffering the condition.
Continuing with Health Talk’s coverage of May Stroke Awareness Month, today we’ll take a closer look at an ongoing study that uses stems cells to reprogram the brain after a stroke.
In the wake of a stroke, neurons within the brain are damaged. Using stems cells and stem cell technology, researchers in the Val, V. Richard Zarling, Earl Grande Stroke and Stem Cell Laboratory, within the Department of Neurosurgery and the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute, are exploring ways to replace and regenerate damaged neurons in the brain that will ultimately lead to functional improvement of those neurons.