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Montreal stroke survivors needed for study of new therapy


Published: 30 Mar 2009

Royal Victoria ’s TMS Lab spearheads new therapies to help patients move again

Royal Victoria ’s TMS Lab spearheads new therapies to help patients move again

Montreal-area stroke survivors are being invited to participate in a new clinical trial at the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Lab. ENHANCE is an ambitious clinical study of repetitive TMS (rTMS) therapy, which -- when combined with traditional physiotherapy -- may help patients with hand and arm weakness regain some of their lost abilities.

Originally developed in the late ‘80s as a safe, non-invasive and painless treatment for clinical depression, rTMS has recently been shown to also help sufferers of neurological disorders like migraines, Parkinson's disease, dystonia and tinnitus. To date, however, there has never been a large-scale study of its potential benefits for stroke survivors, something TMS Lab director Dr. Lisa Koski and her colleagues are working to change.

“In rTMS we stimulate neurons in the brain with a small stimulating coil,” explained Koski, a professor at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and a psychologist with extensive training in cognitive neuroscience. “The coil generates a magnetic field which in turn induces a weak electric current in the brain cells near wherever you place it. We believe that rTMS treatments before physiotherapy will prime patients’ brains and make them more responsive to the effects of the rehab training.”

Participants in the program must have at least some movement in the hand and arm following a stroke and should otherwise be in relatively good health. Volunteers will receive a program of rTMS therapy followed by 90 minutes of standard physiotherapy over a ten-week period. ENHANCE will also assist with the cost of transportation to and from the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“In rehab, what they do is training for different motor skills,” Koski said. “Sometimes the skill might be as fun and simple as eating popcorn with a hand that's partially paralyzed, or other similar fine motor skills we're trying to improve.”

To participate in the program, contact:

Johanne Higgins
Study Coordinator
(514) 934-1934 ext. 34420
johanne [dot] higgins [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca

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