New Grant Awarded to IEEM

Dr. Benjamin Tseng, Postdoctoral Fellow, at the IEEM was awarded an American Heart Southwest Association Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Tseng proposed a study entitled “Exercise Improves Brain Perfusion and Attenuates White Matter Lesions in Ischemic Stroke Survivors – Pilot Study”. His two year project starts in January of 2013.

The goal of this study is to determine if aerobic training can enhance the recovery of motor function in stroke patients in addition to conventional therapy. The top priority after stroke is to regain the use of limbs and independence. Current standard care for stroke rehabilitation relies exclusively on physical therapy to re-learn motor skills. However, very little attention is given to how blood flow in the brain may impact brain recovery, thus affecting the learning of motor movement. Aerobic exercise can improve vascular health and can provide better oxygen supply to the brain in older adults. It is unclear whether the same benefit can be achieved in stroke survivors.

Three questions will be addressed by the study:
1. Is there a difference in brain structure, brain vascular health, and blood supply in stroke patients?
2. What are the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on motor recovery and brain health in stroke patients?
3. Is there a relationship between the improvement in motor control and blood supply to the brain?

Fifteen patients aged 40-70 years with first time stroke will receive a three month aerobic exercise intervention. Fifteen comparable patient controls will receive stretching exercise. The study will measure brain motor function, vascular health, brain structure, and blood flow before and after the trail to determine which group has a better outcome.