After suffering a major stroke, the early stages of recovery are the most crucial. But with all the different therapies and medications out there, it’s hard to know what’s best for each patient. Stroke recovery varies so much for each person. It’s challenging to predict what treatments are going to work best and how patients are going to respond. However, predicting the outcome of treatment response could help stroke patients get their optimum therapy earlier.
Fortunately, doctors may soon be able to use simple measures, known as biomarkers, to gauge treatment outcomes and predict recovery. A team of renowned researchers from around the globe sat together. In a “roundtable” discussion, they identified methods to predict stroke patient outcomes. They looked at relevant scientific literature investigating stroke recovery biomarkers that could potentially predict recovery or treatment response.
Using biomarkers to predict recovery outcome
The team found some promising biomarkers with high potential for success in future clinical trials. Using technology like DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging), TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), scientists could predict motor and brain function outcomes.
DTI is a technology that uses powerful magnets to detect microscopic structural changes in the brain. This technology allows doctors to look at how neurons are connected and detect small disease-causing changes. DTI evaluation of the corticospinal tract, a region that transmits motor signals from the brain to spinal cord, was able to predict motor function recovery in acute stroke patients 12 months down the line. Additionally, a process known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, which pulses magnetic waves over a patient’s scalp to change electrical activity deep within, was able to produce measurable nerve signals in the arms or legs. Additionally, this procedure helped predict motor function 12 months later. Researchers also believe that MRI measures of damage to language centers inside the brain can help doctors predict speech recovery after a stroke.
Accurately predicting how patients will react to specific treatments, can help in implementing better rehabilitation plans. Finding the right program is especially crucial during the early phase of stroke recovery. If you or your loved one recently had a stroke, find out what the best recovery options are.
Lead author of this publication is Dr. Boyd from the Department of Physical Therapy & the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.