Magnets can help stroke patients speak

November 16th, 2011 - 12:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 16 (IANS) Stimulating the brain with magnets is likely to improve the language skills of stroke survivors.

Researchers led by Caroline Barwood from the University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences found marked improvement in the language skills of stroke patients after they underwent Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

TMS is a non-invasive method that seeks to target brain activity to facilitate the
reorganisation of brain regions with the purpose to alter language behaviours, reports The European Journal of Neurology.

The treatment involves placing a coil on the participant’s head which uses electromagnetic induction to induce weak electric currents through a changing magnetic field, according to a university statement.

A group of patients that experienced strokes between one and six years prior to the study were recruited for participation and treated at the university’s Centre for Neurogenic Communication Disorders Research.

“Eighty percent of patients treated with TMS showed improvements in language skills, most notably in expressive language, which includes naming, repetition and discourse. No language improvements were seen for those treated with placebo TMS,” Barwood said.

The researcher said changes in patients’ language scores were measured on standardised speech pathology tests. “The research strongly demonstrates that TMS may be a very useful and safe treatment method,” she added.

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