Stroke: Stimulate the vagus nerve improves recovery of motor abilities

Researchers reveal in a recent study that after stroke, vagus nerve stimulation improves recovery of motor skills.

After a stroke, there is frequently a chronic attack of the arm and the hand. Researchers report in a recent study that vagus nerve stimulation - combined with rehabilitation training - improves the recovery of this motor function. Their results were published in the journal Stroke.

Few options to fight disability

Currently, therapeutic options for restoring arm and hand function in stroke patients are limited. The loss of supination capacity (external rotation of the hand and forearm) contributes to post-stroke disability.

Scientists have investigated whether associating vagus nerve stimulation with rehabilitation could improve the recovery of rotational function of the forelimb and found that the results were satisfactory: the recovery of the supination function actually doubled compared with the practice of rehabilitation training alone.

Neuroplasticity promotes recovery after stroke

According to the researchers, this recovery persists even for at least 7 weeks after the cessation of vagus nerve stimulation. In practice, this study provides the first evidence that vagus nerve stimulation associated with re-education training after stroke. Indeed, researchers have observed that this association improves the recovery of the speed of movement of the forelimb members, as well as their strength. The question now is whether in practice the physiotherapist should systematically associate the vagus nerve stimulation technique with rehabilitation exercises, in particular to improve the quality of life in the long term.

Video: Rewiring the brain: Novel therapy seeks to improve stroke recovery (November 2019).