June 27, 2013 —
Science Daily/American Heart Association
Non-invasive brain stimulation may help stroke survivors recover speech and language function, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
"For decades, skilled speech and language therapy has been the only therapeutic option for stroke survivors with aphasia," said Alexander Thiel, M.D., study lead author and associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. "We are entering exciting times where we might be able in the near future to combine speech and language therapy with non-invasive brain stimulation earlier in the recovery. This could result in earlier and more efficient aphasia recovery and also have an economic impact."
In the small study, researchers treated 24 stroke survivors with several types of aphasia at the rehabilitation hospital Rehanova and the Max-Planck-Institute for neurological research in Cologne, Germany. Thirteen received transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and 11 got sham stimulation. The TMS groups' improvements were on average three times greater than the non-TMS group, researchers said. They used German language aphasia tests, which are similar to those in the United States, to measure language performance of the patients.
"TMS had the biggest impact on improvement in anomia, the inability to name objects, which is one of the most debilitating aphasia symptoms," Thiel said.