January 6, 2017

Cleveland Clinic completes first-of-its-kind stroke surgery

Daily Briefing

    Doctors at Cleveland Clinic last month completed the first deep brain simulation (DBS) surgery for stroke recovery, an experimental procedure that could help patients regain lost function.

    Why video games might be the next big thing in stroke rehab

    The Clinic on Wednesday announced details of the procedure, which was conducted as part of a clinical trial testing the potential for DBS to help patients improve movement following a stroke. About one-third of stroke patients have long-term, disabling motor deficits in spite of rehabilitative efforts, according to the Clinic.

    About the patient, procedure

    The patient, Judy Slater, 58, suffered a stroke in May 2015. As a result, she was paralyzed on her left side. For a period of time, she was unable to move her arm or leg.

    The team Cleveland Clinic team, led by Andre Machado, performed the six-hour surgery on Dec. 19, 2016. The procedure involved implanting electrodes into Slater's cerebellum. The electrodes are connected to a pacemaker that generates small electric pulses intended to help Slater regain control of lost movements.

    According to a release from the Clinic, Slater "has been discharged home feeling well and in stable condition" and "will continue to heal and recover from brain surgery, followed by physical therapy."

    The stimulation will be turned off in March, and researchers will check to see whether its effects continue, Alexandra Sifferlin reports for TIME.  Researchers will assess whether DBS further enhances progress made during standard physical therapy. Slater is currently able to walk while wearing a brace.

    Machado in a statement said that if the research is successful, "it is a new hope for patients that have suffered a stroke and have remained paralyzed after a stroke." He added, "It is an opportunity to allow our patients to rehabilitate and gain function and therefore gain independence."

    Doctors plan to enroll more patients in the clinical trial after they assess Slater's progress.

    Machado said, "We are frustrated with the state of post-stroke care as it is today. The goal is to give people better recovery to gain independence."

    In addition, Machado is testing DBS for treatment of tremors in people with Parkinson's disease (Crain's Cleveland Business, 1/4; Sifferlin, TIME, 1/4; Akron Beacon Journal, 1/4; Cleveland Clinic release, 1/4).

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