The division chief of stroke and vascular neurology at Duke Health provided insight on the nuances of poststroke neuromuscular symptoms and how they differ from other typically managed impairments. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]
WATCH TIME: 5 minutes
“Once the tone goes up, you can do more customized therapy. If it’s too high, you may have to give medications to decrease the [muscle] tone. The first 3 months is a critical repair window.”
As stroke has a complex nature, the symptoms experienced by patients may vary. For instance, if the stroke occurs toward the back for the brain, it is likely that some disability involving vision will result. The effects of a stroke depend on several factors, including the location of the obstruction and how much brain tissue is affected. Neuromuscular dysfunction affects a significant proportion of stroke survivors, causing disabilities such as apraxia, pain syndromes, limb spasticity, and incontinence.
Pain syndromes, or musculoskeletal pain caused by poor motor control, can affect a patient’s shoulders, hips, muscles, and other parts of the body. This muscle weakness, stiffness, pain, or paralysis experienced by these patients also has a direct impact on the ability to talk, walk, or use limbs. Wuwei "Wayne" Feng, MD, FAHA, is a leading expert in the field researching the effects of stroke, specifically the neuromuscular symptoms and ways to combat it. During his time as the chief of the division of stroke and vascular neurology and director of the Neuromodulation and Stroke Recovery Lab at Duke University, he has researched therapeutically stimulating nerves to improve motor skills, as well as used magnetic stimulation to improve language.
In an interview with NeurologyLive®, Feng discussed how clinicians in his position have typically approached patients with poststroke neuromuscular—or motor—symptoms, and the importance of understanding tone. Additionally, he provided insight on his ongoing project using electromagnetic nerve stimulation can improve poststroke recovery.