From Medical Xpress:

Micrograph showing cortical pseudolaminar necrosis, a finding seen in strokes on medical imaging and at autopsy. H&E-LFB stain. Credit: Nephron/Wikipedia

Using mice whose front paws were still partly disabled after an initial induced stroke, Johns Hopkins researchers report that inducing a second stroke nearby in their brains let them “rehab” the animals to successfully grab food pellets with those paws at pre-stroke efficiency.

The findings, described online Dec. 31, 2015, in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, show that the “window of opportunity” for recovering motor function after a stroke isn’t permanently closed after brain damage from an earlier stroke and can reopen under certain conditions, in conjunction with rapid rehabilitation efforts.

The investigators strongly emphasize that their experiments do not and will never make a case for inducing strokes as a therapy in people with . But they do suggest the mammalian brain may be far more “plastic” in such patients, and that safe and ethical ways might be found to better exploit that plasticity and reopen the recovery window for people who have never fully regained control of their motor movements.

“If we can better understand how to reopen or extend the optimal recovery period after a stroke, then we might indeed change how we treat patients for the better,” says Steven Zeiler, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Our study adds new strong and convincing evidence that there is a sensitive period following stroke where it’s easiest to…

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