Two outstanding studies - one measuring the ability of the brain to recover from stroke and the other a tool to predict clinical outcomes after stroke - were honoured for their innovation and impact at the 2012 Canadian Stroke Congress.
Researcher Thomas Harrison of the University of British Columbia received the co-chairs' Innovation Award for his study of the recovery abilities of the brain's sensory and motor areas.
Harrison and his team determined that the area of the brain responsible for movement can also process sensations of touch and pressure if the brain area originally responsible for doing so is damaged by stroke.
The researchers used a new method for non-invasively stimulating the brain with light, a technique that allowed them to measure brain response over time.
"It's very encouraging: it shows how good the brain can be at recovering after an injury," says Mr. Harrison. "Hopefully, down the road, it will be possible to test different therapies to see if we can augment this process and improve recovery after stroke."
"The Innovation Award highlights a study with a unique approach to a crucial area of research," says neurologist Dr. Michael Hill, Co-Chair of the Canadian Stroke Congress. "This study opens many possibilities for exploration and future work."
Congress co-chairs presented the Impact Award to Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, Clinician Scientist at St Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto. Dr. Saposnik and his team created a diagnostic tool called iScore, an application capable of accurately predicting complications in stroke patients who are given the clot-dissolving drug tPA after an ischemic stroke. The tool is used by physicians to guide treatment decisions.
Patients with high iScores may not benefit from intraveneous tPA and carry a higher risk of hemorrhagic complications, the research found.
iScore, which is available online at no cost (www.sorcan.ca/iscore) and in an application for Apple devices, forecasts a patient's likelihood of disability, institutionalization, complications and mortality at the time they leave the hospital, three months after stroke, and one year after stroke.
"All of this is crucial information to keep physicians and families better informed," says Dr. Saposnik. "Physicians can use it to guide their treatment decisions, while family members may have a better understanding of possible outcomes, both favourable and less favourable."
The Impact Award honours the study most likely to directly affect stroke care, according to Dr. Mark Bayley, Co-Chair of the Canadian Stroke Congress and Medical Director of the Neurological Rehabilitation Program at Toronto Rehab. "The iScore is accessible and accurate enough to deserve wide influence in the world of stroke."
The award winners were selected from more than 250 scientific studies.
The Canadian Stroke Congress is co-hosted by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Stroke Consortium.
The Canadian Stroke Network, www.canadianstrokenetwork.ca, is a national research network headquartered at the University of Ottawa. It includes scientists, clinicians and health-policy experts committed to reducing the impact of stroke.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation, www.heartandstroke.ca, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke, reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy.
Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.
For more information and/or interviews, contact
The CSC 2012 MEDIA OFFICE September 30 to October 2 at 403-218-7868
Cathy Campbell, Canadian Stroke Network, 613-852-2303 (cell)
Holly Roy, Heart and Stroke Foundation, 780-991-2323
Congress information is at www.strokecongress.ca