Oxford stroke stimulation

It’s a classic theme in horror pictures such as Frankenstein; the mad scientist sends an electrical current through the brain of a subject (soon-to-be-monster, in most cases) in order to bring it to life. In real life, scientists have used a similar process to help give people their normal lives back.

Researchers at Oxford University have run an experiment using trans cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to help stroke victims. We’ve written about tDCS before for consumer wearables, but this study is a clinical study. A group of 24 subjects who had lost some of their hand and arm function due to a stroke. All subjects received the same physical therapy programs. Half of the subjects were given tDCS treatments, while the other half received treatments where the electrodes were turned off. MTI scans revealed that the tDCS group showed more activity in the motor skills areas of their brains. Even after three months, the tDCS group showed greater improvement than the control group, and were better at lifting, reach, and grasping objects.

The researchers point out that the study sample was small, and the long term benefits are not known. The results are give reason for optimism, however, and larger studies should reveal whether or not this treatment should be put to wider use for stroke victims.