According to figures published by the World Stroke Organisation, around one in four people globally will experience a stroke within their lifetime. Statistics published by The Stroke Association state that in the UK, 100,000 people suffer a stroke every year and there are 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK.
A stroke occurs either when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off by a blood clot or where a blood vessel in the brain bursts, which then causes damage to brain cells in the relevant part of the brain.
Patients who survive a stroke are often left with long-term effects. These effects can include persistent muscle weakness or paralysis leading to difficulties in using their arm/hand or legs, as well as speech, swallowing and memory difficulties.
Growing up, I experienced first-hand the impact that a stroke had on my grandad.
A recent study carried out by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University in the United States has been published demonstrating early evidence that spinal cord stimulation could offer benefits to patients who experience chronic upper limb weakness after a stroke.
The researchers implanted an electrode array into the spines of two stroke patients which allowed for spinal cord stimulation. This led to an improvement in the participants’ arm and hand strength and range of movements.
Whilst further research is ongoing into the safety and efficiency of spinal cord stimulation in stroke patients, it could, in the future, offer a way of transforming the lives of patients and clients who are left with debilitating effects after a stroke.
If a patient is displaying signs or symptoms of a stroke, on arrival at hospital they will usually undergo a number of investigations, which may include a brain scan. A brain scan can assist doctors in identifying a stroke and the type of stroke suffered.