Monitoring Brain After Stroke Can Lead to Better Treatment

Researchers say that monitoring stroke patients using Quantitative EEG (QEEG) can not only evaluate the patients' condition but also leads to faster treatment.

Currently, patients who have had a stroke are given tissue plasminogen activator, a drug to dissolve blood clots. Physicians then wait for any signs of recovery. New research suggests that measuring electrical activity in the brain would be a better way to monitor stroke patients.

“The main goals of this research were to evaluate key findings, identify common trends and determine what the future priorities should be, both for research and for translating this to best inform clinical management of stroke patients,” said Dr. Simon Finnigan from University of Queensland's Centre for Clinical Research.

“Our studies have real potential to eventually contribute to better outcomes for stroke patients and for me this is the ultimate goal,” he said.

Researchers reviewed hundreds of studies published on QEEG indicators and found that these tests can help doctors predict of any long-term disability caused by the stroke and to check whether the patient is responding to treatments.

“Firstly they can help predict long-term deficits caused by stroke,” Dr. Finnigan said in a press release, “in addition, they could provide immediate information on how patients are responding to treatments and guide decisions about follow-on treatments, even before stroke symptoms change."

Physicians now wait for an hour or more to assess the condition of the patient after administering the drug to dissolve the blood clot.  

“This is where QEEG could indicate whether or not the brain is responding to the drug. Plus, it could do so up to an hour before the symptoms might improve," Dr. Finnigan said.

Monitoring the brain could enable physicians to treat the patient faster, researchers say.

"This is a critical difference when “time is brain” and clinicians are trying to get blood back into the brain before it's too late. If QEEG can enable clinicians to start other treatments faster, this could help minimise brain damage and deficits," he said.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a stroke is when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. The symptoms include sudden dizziness, numbness or weakness especially on one side of the body, loss of balance or co-ordination.

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