A new drug study gives hope to stroke patients--- victims of the devastating tragedy of a destroyed or badly-damaged memory.
One of the most terrifying things that can happen to us is brain damage, the loss of part of our mind and memory, or even everything we know. Decades of a personal humanity--- gone in a burst of shock to the brain, that leaves one helpless, confused, and despairing.
We fear it, yet most of us understand it so poorly. What is a stroke, really?
A stroke disrupts blood flow to the brain, and cells start to die. There are 2 kinds. Both can devastate the life memories stored there, and the pathways of those memories.
One kind of stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel leading to the brain. The other type of stroke is when a blood vessel ruptures--- bleeding into the brain, instead of feeding blood to the affected area, now oxygen-starved.
We've all seen the stroke victim difficulties--- unable to move one side of the body, and terrible speech problems, or "aphasia."
And many strokes damage the centers of thinking and memory, the centers of human 'cognitive function'.
Well, now there is hope, if the results of a new study can be believed. And we certainly hope they can. The evidence seems strong enough.
Drugs called "selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors" (SSRIs), are a type of antidepressant.
Researchers believe these drugs can stimulate new brain growth--- new pathways and nerve cells in the brain.
Study groups were subjected to problem-solving therapy, a dummy drug (a placebo), or an SSRI called escitalopram.
12 months later, the subjects took memory and thinking tests to compare their previous function levels.
The escitalopram results scored higher than either placebo or problem-solving therapy!
(On a 120-point scoring system, people taking the drug had an improvement of 10 points, compared with 3 points for people not taking the drug.)
Looking at individual parts of the test, only the parts measuring memory showed a bigger improvement for people taking escitalopram. Other tests showed no difference.
Memories improved with escitalopram--- regardless of which type of stroke they suffered--- improvements in people's ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
What does the new study promise for stroke victims?
It's pretty obvious. SSRI drugs seem to be a powerful rehab tool.
People who suffer strokes can gain new hope in the recovery of their cognitive function. Even after their brain has been damaged, there can be life after stroke!