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STROKE AND DEPRESSION

Anger and frustration, fear and anxiety, sadness and hopelessness, those are not just words common to general depression but often describe the mental states of stroke survivors as well. Stroke recovery can be incredibly challenging; the physical and emotional traumas are coupled often with the slow pace of recovery. The National Stroke Association estimates that more than a third of post-stroke patients suffer from depression.

Too often these cases go undiagnosed as these serious symptoms become side issues, rather than a focus for stroke survivors. Left untreated, post stroke depression can exacerbate conditions common in post-stroke patients. Untreated stroke-related depression can linger years after the stroke itself and long after the other common stroke related conditions have dissipated. Whereas stroke patients who received treatment for depression saw improvement in mental functions including memory and coordination.

TREATING STROKE WITH TMS

While antidepressants are an effective treatment, they are not without complicated side effects. TMS, as a treatment for stroke-related depression, has fewer side effects and a larger positive benefit. While TMS is used primarily to aid in depression, there are direct therapeutic applications for post-stroke patients without depression as well. Strokes are in short, a brain injury. TMS targets the brain with a focused strong and repetitive pulse that stimulates the brain. By modifying cortical and subcortical networks TMS facilitates recovery.

There are several ongoing studies regarding TMS and strokes dating back several years. One of the earlier studies published in Clinical Neurophysiology describes in depth how TMS helps “reorganize” the post-stroke brain, for the full text link click here. At Harvard, Dr. Felipe Fregni is studying TMS’s ability to restore movement to post-stroke patients who have suffered from motor  serious damage. Click here to read more about the Harvard studies. Other studies include a multi-center clinical trial of TMS on both the injured side of the brain and the healthy side of the brain in post-stroke patients. To learn more about Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s participation in this trial as published in Sciencedaily, click here.

At Theramind, we are excited to see these developments and look forward to seeing TMS cleared by the FDA as a treatment for stroke recovery.