Can Brains Repair Themselves Following Strokes?

By , 9:00 am on

The brain contains trillions of neural connections that are responsible for managing many different body functions. When a stroke happens, it results in bleeding and possibly swelling. The trauma damages the communication pathways, which causes the stroke symptoms. However, recent research reveals that the brain undergoes processes to repair the damage.

Formation of New Neurons

Researchers from the Department of Neurology at UCLA have discovered what happens within the brain within the first few weeks after a stroke. Their findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience. After a stroke, new blood vessels begin forming. Molecules are released that stimulate the birth of new neurons, and the newly formed neurons travel to the site of the damaged area to assist in the regenerative process. The new neurons develop in the area of the brain known as the forebrain, or the subventricular zone. The activity was noted in laboratory mice after the animals experienced strokes.

The scientists used a combination of genetic, mitotic, and viral labels to track the emerging neuroblast cells to the location to which they migrated. Observations showed that after the new neurons arrive onsite, they encapsulate the cells, which are in the process of creating new blood vessels. The physiological activity takes place anywhere from two to four weeks following a stroke. 

Even with neural repair taking place soon after a stroke, the recovery process for seniors who have strokes can last a long time and require constant specialized care. 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 Fort Myers 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.

Production of Proteins That Aid Regeneration

The scientists also discovered that the newly formed blood vessels release angiopoietin 1 (ANG1) and stromal-derived factor 1 (SDF1) proteins. These proteins are the signals that call the new neurons to the damaged site. The proteins are also thought to affect the behavioral recovery of stroke survivors. The evidence was observed in some of the mice that had experienced strokes and displayed symptoms in the facial area near the whiskers. When the mice received the ANG1 and SDF1 proteins, whisker function increased. The function was no different than in the mice that didn’t have strokes. 

The researchers cautioned that although the molecular discovery is promising, the regenerative process may differ between mice and humans. However, it’s known that humans do experience neurogenesis. After gaining the knowledge from the study, scientists are hoping to combine molecular biology with the brain’s plasticity abilities to enhance the science of brain repair. 

The results of this research offer hope for future stroke survivors and their families. 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. Fort Myers 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.

Additional Findings

Another study performed by researchers from UCLA showed that when the area of the hippocampus experiences damage, the prefrontal cortex assumes the region’s function. The findings are yet another example of the brain’s plasticity. 

The hippocampus plays a vital role in memory development and storage. These capabilities were formerly thought to be lost when the area experiences damage. However, now researchers understand that when some areas of the brain are silenced, other regions activate to assume the role. 

The research group explained that each neuron has approximately six pathways that connect with each other. When researchers understand when and how the brain stimulates the pathways, the knowledge might lead to new treatments and therapies for several conditions that cause brain damage.

Research results are promising for future stroke survivors, but families who are currently caring for senior loved ones who have had strokes can benefit from help with the challenges of daily caregiving. Families looking for top-rated Fort Myers 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. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 239.449.4701 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.