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Strokes

Strokes have been the leading cause of permanent disability in Europe and the United States for many years. According to the German Society for Neurology, approximately 260,000 people suffer a stroke in Germany every year.

Several teams in the Cognitive Neuroscience (INM-3) division of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine are researching how strokes affect the structure and function of the brain. It has been observed that strokes affect not only motor skills but also cognitive abilities such as alertness, speech and motor function.

When this occurs, the brain is able to compensate for the functions lost as a result of the stroke, reconfiguring itself. Scientists at the Institute are working with the Clinic for Neurology at the University of Cologne to determine exactly how this happens and how these processes can be supported by special external procedures.

They researchers' innovative approach aims to combine various methods in order to influence the brain's networks. Using functional imaging and electroencephalography (EEG), the activated networks of the brain can be visualised to identify potential malfunctions. Methods such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation can be used to influence activity in specific regions of the brain, in order to improve impaired functions.

In the context of clinical trials, the physicians have already achieved success with both methods. In combination with physical rehabilitation measures, the stroke patients that were treated experienced greater improvements than the control group that did not receive stimulation with TMS or TDCS. These highly innovative approaches to stroke rehabilitation are currently being evaluated in large-scale controlled clinical trials.

Institute:

Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Cognitive Neuroscience (INM-3)