New therapies offer hope of stroke survivors

Traditionally, it was believed that stroke patients' best chance for recovery occurred within the months following their stroke. After several months, it was thought that a survivor's recovery would not progress beyond a certain point. But new understanding of how the brain functions has led doctors to re-examine stroke patients' chances for long-term recovery.

Currently, studies are underway to determine what treatments have the best chance of helping patients regain control of their bodies. Possible therapies for stroke recovery include electrical stimulation, new forms of aggressive physical therapy, drugs, devices and even stem cell or gene therapy. "[W]e're still limited in how much we can influence the recovery process," notes one doctor who is conducting an electrical stimulation study. "But in the last 10 or 15 years, we've recognized that there is recovery of the brain to a meaningful degree, and, equally important, we can influence that recovery."

To learn more about long-term stroke recovery:
- read this Boston Globe article