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Preventing Stroke

August 26, 2010

Stimulating a rat’s whiskers after inducing stroke completely prevented brain damage.


Saving stroke victims by a whisker…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain gets blocked. Emergency treatment usually means removing that blockage. But a new study done in rats shows there may be another way to restore blood flow to the brain. Ron Frostig and his colleagues at the University of California at Irvine found that stimulating a rat’s whiskers for up to two hours after inducing a stroke completely prevented brain damage. The stimulation somehow rerouted blood around the blockage. Frostig says that if something similar happens in people, it could offer a new way to treat stroke.

What we hope is that you can do things for victims long before they reach the hospital.

He says a large part of the rat’s brain is devoted to the whiskers, similar to the fingers and lips in the human brain. But more work needs to be done in animals before testing the effect in people. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.