Retrain your brain after stroke

September 13, 2008

Apparently just walking on a treadmill every day for six months can really help stroke victims regain control of mind and body – even years after their stroke. A German study of stroke victims, half of the whom could walk without assistance with the rest used a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair, has found that using a treadmill not only improved walking speed and fitness, but appeared to rewire their brain circuits. The repetitive walking action seemed to recruit unused brain circuits to take over for those destroyed by the stroke and MRI scans showed greater activity in other parts of the brain too. Stroke patients are typically told to learn to live with their disabilities, and most rehabilitation programmes focus on short-term improvement, ending just a few months after the stroke, so that over time the patients’ improvement plateaus and fitness often wanes. But this study suggests that it’s never too late for the brain and body to recover, the researchers said, noting that patients in the study had significant improvement even nine years after a stroke.


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