Australian scientists are confident new brain stimulation research will help long-term stroke and Parkinson’s disease patients speak again.
The new approach, pioneered by Professor Bruce Murdoch from the University of Queensland, uses magnetic pulses to stimulate damaged areas of the brain.
“We can either switch on parts of the brain, or switch them off,” he said.
Professor Murdoch says the four-year study has had remarkable success in improving speech and tongue movement in patients who have had Parkinson’s and stroke complications for more than five years.
“That is unusual and the degree of improvement that we’ve seen over a long period of time, up to 12 months, is also unusual,” he said.
In initial testing, all patients experienced some improvement in communication.
“[It's] about up to 20 per cent (improvement) in some patients; it doesn’t sound a lot, but that’s clinically important,” he said.
“It means that their intelligibility levels are sufficient in the Parkinson’s patients, for instance, that they can start to communicate with their family and friends much more freely.
“It makes them more self-confident so they can get out into public arenas more freely.”
Professor Murdoch explained his ground-breaking treatment to a national speech pathology conference in Hobart.
Source: By Emily Woodgate – ABC News