Brain Remapping After Stroke


After a stroke, do nearby nerve cells take over the function of dead nerve cells as folks regain function? That's what we would expect, but new research from Dr. William Zeiger suggests that is not the case. After giving very specific strokes to mice, they used advanced imaging techniques to understand just what was happening in those little mouse brains. It was not what they expected.

We talk about that research, brain remapping after stroke, the importance of constraint induced therapy, and more in this episode.


Dr. William Zeiger professional head shot. He wears a white doctor's coat against a gray background as he looks at the camera

Dr. Zeiger is a physician scientist in the Department of Neurology at UCLA. Clinically, Dr. Zeiger works as a neurologist specializing in movement disorders, particularly Parkinson disease and atypical parkinsonian disorders. Dr. Zeiger also runs a neuroscience research lab focused on investigating cortical circuit dysfunction in neurological disorders.

The Study

You can read the paper Dr. Zeiger and his team produced here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24211-8

You can read an article about the study here. It's how I learned about the research and is a little more accessible: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/uoc--hbc062521.php

Basically, researchers gave mice strokes in a specific part of the brain to stop a single whisker from working. They use a technology called 2-Photon Microscopy to examine the brains of these mice. They wanted to see if other nerves would simple take on responsibility for that whisker. That did not happen.

Then they removed all the other whiskers from the mice. Once they did that, mice began recovering function in that remaining, stroke affected whisker. Essentially, it was a form on Constraint Induced Therapy for the mice.

This gives us some interesting information about neuroplasticity. It's hard to extrapolate to humans, but it does point toward the needs for ongoing research into just what is happening during brain recovery.

The Neuro Nerds

The Neuro Nerds is one of my favorite podcasts. Host Joe Borges was a guest on this show back in episode 65.

This week, I was Joe's guest on The Neuro Nerds. We talked stroke stories, nerd stuff, Doctor Who, podcasting, the brain injury community, and much more. You can listen in your favorite podcast app or right here by pressing play.

Hack of the Week

One of the biggest risks for stroke survivors and Parkinson's Disease patients is falls. Falling is of course even more likely at night because it's dark and we're tired. And many of those late night falls happen during late night trips to the bathroom.

If you're a fall risk, one solution is a bedside commode or a urinal jug (sorry that doesn't help you, ladies). It may not be pretty or something you want in your bedroom, but if it means you don't fall and pick up another brain injury or other injury, it's probably worth it.


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast

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