An estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke each year and more than a third die within a week. For those who do survive, rehabilitation is a lengthy process and stroke patients occupy up to 25% of long-term hospital beds.
Stroke victims are often left with impaired communication, known as aphasia. The most common problem is anomia, a condition in which the patient is unable to find the right word to say (a very severe form of everyone’s ‘tip of the tongue’ experiences). Traditional therapy to treat anomia is extensive and requires intervention over a long time period to be successful. However, a new brain zapping therapy trialled by neuroscientists at University College, London has enabled patients to make a startling recovery, compared to patients undergoing traditional therapy.
Whilst patients were undergoing vocabulary training neuroscientist Jenny Crinion and her colleagues applied transcranial direct current stimulation to the left side of the brain in the area related to speech production. After six weeks the patients had improved by an astonishing 92%, compared to just 56% in patients who had received the vocabulary training without the stimulation therapy. The stimulation is thought to stimulate nerve cell activity in Broca’s area, which is the part of the brain devoted to speech comprehension and production.
For more information about stroke and how to recognise the signs click here.