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Mayo Clinic research shows stroke rehabilitation best served by physical training

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Research by an international team of scientists led by a Mayo Clinic physician provides evidence that physical training is the optimal treatment for stroke survivors' impaired movement and thinking -- not treatment with stimulants known as amphetamines, as has commonly been thought.

The investigation was a collaboration between Swedish scientists from the Karolinska Institute and researchers from Mayo Clinic. It consisted of laboratory experiments in rats, and appears online in Experimental Neurology, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00144886.

The finding is welcome, according to Allen Brown, M.D., Mayo Clinic physiatrist who led the international research team, because it establishes a solid scientific foundation for emphasizing physical training over amphetamine use in stroke rehabilitation programs. In so doing, it helps clarify a treatment question that has been muddy ever since the first animal studies in the 1980s suggested a possible role for amphetamine use in human stroke rehabilitation.

While they were intrigued by the early findings from animal studies, the Mayo Clinic and Karolinska Institute investigators also felt the data from the early animal studies were not fully relevant to treating human stroke patients. To correct this, they designed an investigation in rats that had brain damage similar to that suffered by human stroke patients.

"We were surprised amphetamine use didn't have more of the effect that was suggested by previous studies,'' says Dr. Brown. He adds, "Instead, we found that physical training consisting of teaching rats to walk along a beam had the most powerful effect on recovery. This raises significant questions about the role of stimulant treatment to enhance motor recovery following stroke."

About Stroke

An estimated 750,000 Americans experience a stroke every year. Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, and t
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Contact: Lisa Lucier
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
18-Oct-2004


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