Helping stroke patients swallow

Researchers are using magnetic stimulators to jump start the brain after a stroke and repair swallowing functions which break down in more than half of stroke patients.

“About 60,000 people suffer strokes each year in Australia alone, with more than 35,000 of these initially experiencing problems with swallowing. That is a huge part of the stroke population who have difficulty eating or drinking and may have to be fed through a tube,” one of the researchers said.

“There are up to 32 muscle pairs involved in swallowing and all have to work in perfect harmony to get food and drink from the lips down into the stomach. This activity places a huge demand on the brain.”

“When people have strokes, the parts of their brains that control the muscles in the mouth and throat are often damaged and we have to find ways to reactivate these regions. Using the magnetic stimulators we can create electrical currents in the brain that stimulate the nerve cells which we believe help control swallowing,” he says.

Read more at University of Adelaide