But I have a good excuse. In fact I have many. But let me just give you the two big hits:
1. As usual, I'm on the road a lot, doing talks on stroke recovery. If you a are a survivor, please note that my talks are available at a discounted rate. Jus' sayin'. Love to see you there. We'd probably use you as a guinea pig, so be forewarned.
2. At the beginning of last summer I was offered work as a consultant for a lab at Ohio State. It's a long story, but this lab is the latest iteration of the lab that I've worked for— or with— for the last 15 years.
And in all those 15 years, I've been involved in all kinds of cool stroke recovery studies. I've been involved in studies of constraint induced therapy. I've been involved in studies of mental practice (imagery), electrical stimulation machines, as well of the song whole host of other gizmos. I was lucky enough to also be involved in a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) study. Boy! That was a cool study! Basically we were able to touch stroke survivor's brains, without having to go through the messy business of opening up part of the skull.
I could write much more than this blog entry can hold about TMS. But I'd like to tell you a little bit about the latest study I've been involved in. It's the coolest!
A pharmaceutical company run by neuroscientists, called Dart Neuroscience, thinks it may have come up with a pill to help stroke survivors recover.
This pill is thought to help the brain produce BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is called by some
neuroscientists "miracle grow for the brain." It is produced by the brain for the brain during times in which the brain needs to learn.
For instance, BDNF comes out right after birth. And you can imagine why – the infants brain is trying to figure out what that smell is, who that face belongs to, how to use their hand, and on and on. So the brain needs help, so it produces BDNF to make all that stuff easier to learn.BDNF is also produced by the brain after brain injury – including stroke.
This is one of the reasons that the stroke survivor's brains are said to be in in "infantile state" — because, like an infant sprain, the stroke survivors brain is awash in BDNF.
But if there was a pill that produced BDNF in survivors it would help in two ways:
1. Typically BDNF is only available in the brain for about a three month period after the stroke. If a pill would produce even more BDNF it would open a larger window of opportunity for recovery.
2. Some stroke survivors just don't produce BDNF— at all— after their stroke. This medication would help those people. A lot.
To get a study like this off the ground involves a pretty monumental effort by dozens of people. I am one of those people.
So, dear blog, I apologize!
But I'm back!