Highlights from the AHA/ASA International Stroke Conference in LA

I returned earlier this week from the International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles with the PFO Research Foundation.  In addition to finding the weather absolutely perfect, it was exciting coming from conference and actually getting the news “live in LA” before Google and the news channels actually reported on it later that same evening.  Some of the news this week you might have heard about (or not) is highlighted below:

Here were some of the my highlights from ISC 2011:

  • PFO/Heart/Brain/Research: MingMing  Ning, M.D., assistant professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School, vascular neurologist, Massachusetts general Hospital, Boston presented “How the Heart Whispers to the Brain: Serotonin as Neurovascular Mediator in Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)-Related Stroke” With further investigation Dr. Ning’s important research may help explain and quantify how and why unfiltered blood which bypasses the detoxifying lung filters through a PFO may trigger oxidative stress to the brain by way of the heart. I hope we can get Dr. Ning on a call for the PFO Research Foundation soon because her exciting research might be the first to finally quantify and possibly confirm why the heart of a PFO patient could be guilty of “dumping trash” out the “back door to the brain (PFO)”.  I know many patients (including myself) would love to hear more about Dr. Ning’s research to gain a better understanding of the “why” (after PFO closure) they immediately report increased energy and cessation of headaches/migraine.  Congratulations Dr. Ning for your award and great work on this important and potentially ground breaking PFO/stroke-related research!
  • Stroke Rehabilitation Research: The results of the largest stroke rehabilitation study ever conducted in the United States were announced at the International Stroke Conference. In this study stroke patients who had physical therapy at home improved their ability to walk just as well as those who were treated in a training program using a body-weight supported treadmill device, followed by walking practice.  The study found that earlier was better when it came to rehabilitation therapy. The patients who were not assigned to a study group until six months after their stroke recovered only about half as much as the participants who received one of the two therapy programs at two months. This finding suggests that either the treadmill training program or the at-home sessions are effective forms of physical therapy, and both are superior to usual care.  This is great news for stroke survivors and physical therapists to think “outside the box” when and how we deliver our services. [personal sidebar] I’m on the right track with my home stroke recovery resources.
David Dansereau wearing Tibion Bionic leg
  • Great new technology for stroke recovery: I had the chance to try out the Tibion Bionic Leg as well as other great cutting-edge rehab technologies.  This promising technology (shown in this photo courtesy of Charlie Ungashick) can provide a robotic rehabilitation tool to help retrain impaired gait.  The challenge remains how to get these great tools in the hands of therapists and patients at an affordable price.
  • The Food and Nutrition Connection with Stroke Risk: A report that was widely circulated in the news this week that came out of this conference was the increased stroke risk noted with users of diet soft drinks.  The increased risk of stroke was significant (61 percent higher risk of “vascular events”) with only one diet soda daily.  See more press on this study by clicking here.
  • Dilemmas in Childhood Stroke: A study showed the symptoms and signs of acute ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke are similar in adults and children, but in children stroke is not considered early enough and patients do not receive brain imaging early enough. Rapid recognition, response and treatment of children with stroke will start with the development of pediatric brain attack protocols in the emergency department and pre-hospital setting. This presentation described how adults and medical professionals dismiss stroke warning signs in kids “because kids can’t have strokes” and points to the need for better awareness and community education as a first line defense in pediatric stroke.
  • Ok, what does Justin Bieber have to do with Stroke Awarness? Nothing as it turns out but my 10 year old daughter certainly thought this should be included as a highlight of my trip to LA.  When I arrived in LA I walked out the back door of my hotel and unexpectedly stepped right out on the LA premier of “the Bieb’s” new movie “Never Say Never” and along with it about a couple thousand screaming young girls.  BTW, I haven’t heard the end of it because I didn’t get a photo (or autograph) for my daughter, I just wanted to find a place to eat.
David Dansereau
David Dansereau (Know-Stroke.org)

David Dansereau

Physical Therapist




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Published by David Dansereau

Licensed Physical Therapist, Nutritionist and Author in private consulting practice at PTC Physical Therapy Consulting and SmartMovesPT. Know-Stroke.org is my blog and members resource to raise stroke awareness and educate the public about reducing stroke risk as well as provide tips, tools and review new technologies for stroke recovery. Learn about my book, Body in Balance sold on Amazon at www.physicaltherapycoach.com

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