USC stroke study - Brain adjusts to offset damage

The State: South Carolina

Brain functions lost following a stroke might not be gone forever.

After damage to certain areas of the brain in some stroke victims, nearby areas can take over the function of the damaged cells, according to a University of South Carolina study. The findings counter the long-held notion that stroke damage is permanent, much as recent research on recovery of damaged spinal cords has given hope for paralysis victims.

“The things that we thought could not be changed are not true,” said Julius Fridriksson, the USC Arnold School of Health researcher who led the stroke study. He expects major breakthroughs in the next 10 years.

“Even years after a stroke, patients can recover,” Fridriksson said. “You still can get better.”

The stroke study, reported in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, is especially important to South Carolinians. The state is among those with the highest incidence of strokes in the country, resulting in 14,470 hospitalizations in 2008.

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.