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Do Brains Repair Themselves After Strokes?

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After having a stroke, seniors typically need to undergo rehabilitation to regain any function that became impaired. However, up until now, little was known about what goes on in the brain during recovery. In recent years, a group of scientists from UCLA made some amazing discoveries. 

For senior stroke survivors, this research is promising. Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Palm Beach live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place.

Findings from a 2015 Study

It’s generally known that following a stroke, the brain tissue deprived of blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients starts dying. However, the scientists from UCLA discovered that when the process occurs, unaffected neurons begin developing new axons to make new connections, then the connections replace the pathways damaged by the stroke.

At first, the scientists didn’t know what triggered the new growth. The researchers studied brain tissue from laboratory mice, monkeys, and humans who had experienced strokes. They found that a molecule called growth and differentiation factor 10, or GDF10, played an important role in the repair process. The UCLA scientists published their findings in an issue of Nature Neuroscience

Upon studying the autopsy tissues, the scientists learned that GDF10 releases rapidly following a stroke. The group tested their theory by placing animal and human neurons in petri dishes, then subjected the tissues to GDF10. They were amazed to find that the neurons immediately began sprouting axons, and the compound also extended the lengths of existing axons. The group was surprised to witness the growth in human tissues despite the absence of stem cells. 

Their next trials involved testing the compound on live animals that had experienced strokes. They administered GDF10 to some of the animals. However, they blocked the compound in the control group. The animals that were deprived of the factor didn’t recover as significantly compared to the other animals. In all of the tests, GDF10 proved to be the necessary link to stimulating neuron growth and repair. 

At first, the scientists suspected GDF10 was responsible for early brain growth and development in addition to being present following a stroke. However, they soon learned that the compound isn’t responsible for fetal brain development. The regeneration process seems to be unique to brain injury. 

Even though neurons may regenerate following a stroke, seniors who have strokes may require constant specialized care for a long period. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Palm Beach Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Subsequent Studies

In 2018, UCLA scientists learned that two proteins also play a role in stroke recovery. By studying laboratory rats following strokes in the animals, the team made another unique discovery. Anywhere from two to four weeks after the event occurs, new neurons develop in the front of the brain. New blood vessels are also developing to make up for the loss of circulation in the damaged region. 

During this time, two proteins known as angiopoietin 1 and stromal-derived factor 1 are released, acting as messengers that alert the newly formed neurons where to go. After receiving the message, the neuroblasts travel to the site where blood circulation is being reestablished. The neurons surround the vessels and create new neural pathways. The findings lead to yet more possibilities in the treatment of brain trauma.

Family caregivers for elderly stroke survivors can benefit greatly from the help of a professional caregiver with expertise in stroke care. Families looking for top-rated Palm Beach in-home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. For compassionate, reliable in-home care, trust the experienced professionals from Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 561.429.8292 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.