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The Latest in Stroke Management: How Technology Is Changing Treatment

January 30, 2016 Posted in: Brain and Nervous System , Article

Humans are living longer, and that's not the only good news: We've seen widespread improvements in overall health and longevity thanks in large part to medical research advancements over time. Yet the need for continued research never goes away, especially in the face of some of the most prevalent and serious conditions. One of the major offenders? Strokes. Improved stroke management -- including prevention, treatment, and therapy -- is needed more than ever, with people in the U.S. having a stroke every 40 seconds on average.

New Methods for Treating Strokes

Medical advances in stroke treatment offer promise in terms of management and rehabilitation. One prominent example is a piece of technology that has been around since the 1960s: New applications of hyperbaric chambers can restore brain function, even if the damage is years old. According to research published in the Public Library of Science, targeting damaged areas with "concentrated oxygen therapy can reawaken parts of the brain." Though this treatment is not widespread, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is capable of causing "significant neurological improvement in post-stroke patients."

Another example of innovation and outside-the-box thinking for stroke rehab comes from Swiss company MindMaze, a medical startup that develops virtual reality (VR) technologies to help rehabilitate stroke victims. The tech involves wearing elaborate VR goggles that combine neural sensing with embedded motion-capture cameras. The participants watch and control avatars of themselves doing actions rendered difficult due to the effects of a stroke, such as lifting objects and walking unaided. MindMaze's MindMotionPRO is a more elaborate version that uses multiple screens to enhance viewing angles. These technologies help rehab patients learn new ways of doing things that were once routine.

Preventive and Educational Tech

Other technologies can help educate people on stroke prevention. Some lifestyle factors, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, contribute to a higher likelihood of stroke, and wearables can help people can better track those numbers. For example, South Korean researchers have created a wearable patch that monitors your blood pressure by measuring your heart activities continuously and in real time.

Everybody is picking up smartphones and tablets to pass idle time these days, so why not leverage these platforms for health? Apps exist that are highly relevant to a stroke patient, whether they serve educational or rehabilitative purposes. The Stroke Foundation lists a variety of helpful apps to get you or your family member started.

Aided by these technologies, the prevention and treatment of strokes will improve over time. Focus on empowering yourself and your loved ones through knowledge and by being alert to the signs of a stroke, and someday, new stroke management efforts will make a big impact on all facets of treatment.

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