Vagus Nerve Stimulation or VNS has already got a green signal from the Food and Drug Administration of USA for conditions like epilepsy and depression but the latest reports confirm its utilization in rehabilitation of the limb for stroke patients. Many of us are aware of the fact that over 80% of people who’ve recently got a stroke find significant difficulty or weakness on one side of their body. With Paralysis or Hemiparesis, there is high possibility that the patients have to live with it for the rest of their lives. It has also be observed that oral drugs have not been so effective in reducing the impairments. This is when VNS technology experiments were carried out on patients with significant arm weakness post stroke.
The test include 20 patients randomly divided into two groups and observed over a period of six weeks in Glasgow, Scotland. One group was kept entirely under rehabilitation while the other was provided VNS treatment alongside rehabilitation.
VNS treatment for stroke patient involves implanting a device surgically below the collar bone of the patient. It does the task of delivering stimulation to the vagus nerve.As per the experimental data available, VNS activates structures in the brain stem, thus causing a release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine or acetylcholine. This temporary activation of the neurotransmitters in turn helps the brain to be more receptive with the physical therapy exercises during physiotherapy rehabilitation sessions.
The results where encouraging because the latter group that was provided the VNS treatment seemed to show an average 9% improvement. Individual variation did persist but overall it proved to be effective as it improved the motion and strength of their stroke affected limb. Thus, the results of VNS for limb rehabilitation of stroke patients seems to be quite promising and has also received a positive response from the doctors as well. It looks like, the coming times will definitely shed light on its full fledged utilization in limb rehabilitation of stroke patients.
None the less, it is a ray of hope in the direction of improvement of quality of life of the stroke patients who live through the fear of arm weakness and dependency for their lifetime.
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Source : http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/876351#vp_1