Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life After stroke: living with spasticity

Study underway in Chapel Hill to determine if investigational medication is safe and effective for adults experiencing spasticity after stroke

This year alone, approximately 795,000 people will experience a stroke. Of those, 20 percent will experience spasticity, a debilitating condition that affects an individual’s ability to perform the tasks of daily living—including the ability to dress, eat, write, balance or even walk. The impact of spasticity after stroke is not only difficult on stroke survivors but also has a profound effect on their loved ones who assist with their care. In an effort to improve the quality of life for sufferers of spasticity as a result of stroke, there is a worldwide medical research study underway to examine the safety and effectiveness of the investigational medication, Dysport, for the treatment of spasticity that is being conducted in Chapel Hill.
"The impact of stroke can be felt long after the stroke itself," said Heather Walker, M.D., a Dysport study investigator at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Appropriate lifestyle changes and effective treatment is vital to ensure that a survivor has the ability to lead a healthy and productive life."
Spasticity is the tightening and stiffening of muscles that make movement of the arms or legs difficult and painful. It is the result of damage to the central nervous system—often experienced during stroke—which controls voluntary movement. The frustration of not being able to live like one once did can have a profound effect on a stroke survivor. Managing spasticity can be very difficult for sufferers; treatment often includes multiple physical and occupational therapists, oral medications, intrathecal medications and surgery.
The effects of spasticity after stroke are not limited to those with the condition. Providing care for a family member or friend experiencing spasticity after stroke can be challenging and stressful. Loved ones become caregivers responsible for assisting with the most basic of tasks. This new role, combined with watching a loved one experience daily struggles, can be overwhelming.
Chapel Hill area adults between 18 and 80 years of age who are experiencing spasticity after stroke may qualify for participation. Qualified participants must be six months post stroke and experiencing spasticity in their upper or lower limbs.
For more information on this medical research study, visit or contact Charron Andrews at (919) 966-9796.

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