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NIHR Signal On balance, antiplatelet drugs may be restarted for stroke survivors who have bled into the brain
Early research suggests that antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, can provide more benefit than harm if restarted at about 2 to 3 months after a brain bleed. The results seem to apply best to those patients with a good prognosis who survive with less disability. Antiplatelet drugs are of proven benefit to those with a high risk of vascular events; they reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes because they prevent platelets from clumping together. However, after a type of a stroke caused by ...
NIHR Signal Robot-assisted training offers little useful improvement in severe arm weakness and function after stroke
People who have severe arm weakness following stroke have no better function after robot-assisted training or enhanced upper limb therapy than those who have usual NHS care. This large multicentre trial, funded by the NIHR, randomised 770 adult stroke patients to robot-assisted training using the MIT-Manus robotic gym, to an enhanced therapy programme or to usual NHS care. All three groups had improved arm function after three months, with no significant differences between the groups. The rob...
NIHR Signal Non-invasive brain stimulation may improve outcomes for children with brain injury
Non-invasive brain stimulation may help improve limb function in children with motor disorders following brain injury, such as cerebral palsy or one-sided weakness. This is a relatively safe procedure where pads placed on the head deliver electric or magnetic currents, which are thought to activate the motor areas of the brain. This review evaluated 14 trials, including 306 children comparing two types of brain stimulation with a control group. It found that these types of stimulation may impro...
NIHR Signal Centralising stroke services can save lives
Changing access to more specialised stroke centre care in one city (London) was estimated to save an additional 96 lives per year (1%) compared to the reductions occurring in the rest of England. These improvements were sustained over time. Other cities did well on quality of care indicators, including time to admission in a stroke unit and length of stay. Patients and carers reported good experiences despite slightly increased travel times to the central stroke units. A stroke can have devasta...
NIHR Signal Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) may help lower limb spasticity after stroke
Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) delivered alongside standard physical therapies could reduce spasticity in the lower limbs following a stroke. Spasticity is a muscle control disorder characterised by tight muscles. It is common after stroke and accounts for significant disability. TENS is often used to treat pain and can affect nervous stimulation of the muscles. The main evidence in this systematic review came from five trials which suggested that TENS combined with other physica...
NIHR Signal A commonly-used antidepressant doesn’t improve recovery after stroke
The antidepressant fluoxetine works no better than placebo to reduce disability after a stroke, lowering hopes that had been raised by other smaller studies. After a six month trial including more than 3,000 adult stroke patients recruited at 103 UK hospitals, researchers concluded that fluoxetine should not be used to promote recovery from stroke-related disability, or routinely prescribed to prevent depression after stroke. Several smaller studies and animal trials had found promising result...
NIHR Signal Robot-assisted arm training after stroke helps people regain some strength and independence
People who have electromechanical or robot-assisted arm rehabilitation after stroke have better arm function and strength as well as finding it easier to complete activities of daily living. Although moderate, the improvements suggest it may be worth considering these interventions as an adjunct to usual therapy. Many people have impaired arm function after a stroke and rehabilitation is often required. Robot-assisted arm training uses devices to support therapeutic movements. Feedback, given b...
NIHR Signal Two antiplatelet drugs may prevent further strokes but increase major bleeds
People experiencing a minor stroke or a transient ischaemic attack have a lower risk of further stroke within 90 days if given clopidogrel and aspirin, rather than aspirin alone. However, taking both drugs doubles the risk of bleeding over the same period. Current UK guidelines recommend using clopidogrel alone. In this major international trial of nearly 5,000 people, those who took the dual treatment had fewer heart attacks or strokes than those who took aspirin only, particularly in the fir...
NIHR Signal Adding a third antiplatelet drug after a stroke doesn’t reduce the risk of another stroke
A combination of aspirin, clopidogrel and dipyridamole does not reduce the incidence or severity of recurrent stroke in people who have had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA). This NIHR-funded trial compared the triple treatment to current guideline-based antiplatelet therapy for preventing further stroke or TIA (brief loss of blood supply to the brain). UK guidance recommends aspirin initially followed by clopidogrel alone as for most people this gives the best balance of effectivene...
NIHR Signal Direct acting oral anticoagulants likely to be better than warfarin for people taking them for atrial fibrillation
In people with atrial fibrillation needing anticoagulant treatment, deaths were fewer in those who had direct acting oral anticoagulants compared with warfarin. The picture is less clear for the risk of stroke and complications such as bleeding in the brain or gut. Apixaban had the best efficacy and safety profile and was cost-effective compared with warfarin. This study pooled the data in all trials reporting efficacy, safety and cost of anticoagulant prevention of stroke events in people with...
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