Non-invasive brain stimulation ‘improves swallowing ability post stroke’

March 25th, 2011 - 5:11 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 25 (ANI): In a pilot study, researchers found that stroke patients who received electrical brain stimulation coupled with swallowing exercises showed greater improvement in swallowing ability than patients who did not receive this stimulation.

Difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, is a common and serious stroke complication. It can lead to aspiration, when food or foreign matter accidentally enters the lungs causing pneumonia.

Aspiration and aspiration pneumonia are common complications after stroke and can be deadly.

The non-invasive brain stimulation used in this study (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, or tDCS) uses a weak electrical current. It is transmitted via electrodes placed on the scalp, to increase activity in targeted areas of the brain.

Patients who received brain stimulation increased their ability to swallow by more than 2.5 points on a seven-point swallowing scale, compared to slightly more than one point among those who did not receive the treatment, researchers said.

Overall, swallowing ability improved by at least two points in 86 percent of patients receiving stimulation, and in 43 percent of those who did not.

The study comprised 14 patients recruited from the inpatient stroke center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

All patients had suffered an ischemic stroke within the previous one to seven days.

The study was reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. (ANI)

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