Gadget that saves stroke patients
26 Aug 2016
Device ‘shakes’ the arteries to clear any blockages after a stroke
A device that ‘shakes’ the arteries to clear any blockages and help patients after a stroke has been developed by scientists. The gadget, which is held under the chin, sends out vibrations that shake the blood vessels that lead to the brain, dislodging any blockages and reducing long-term damage. It’s also thought to make drug treatment more effective, as it helps speed up the breakdown of clots.
The device is size of a hand-held microphone
The device is roughly the size of a hand-held microphone and targets the carotid arteries which travel through the neck and under the chin carrying oxygen-rich blood to the head. The developers believe, it enhances blood supply by clearing blockages, and studies in stroke patients are now planned. The device is roughly the size of a hand-held microphone and targets the carotid arteries which travel through the neck and under the chin carrying oxygen-rich blood to the head.
These arteries supply the large area at the front of the brain that controls thought, speech and personality as well as sensory and movement functions – these are the areas most commonly damaged by stroke.
Shaking the carotid artery breaks down blood clots – the action is also thought to repeatedly compress and release the blood vessels, increasing the pressure, and clearing the material away – a bit like a plunger on a blocked drain.
Every year, more than 150,000 people in the country suffer a stroke, and 85 per cent are ischemic, where the blood supply is stopped due to a clot. Other strokes, caused by a burst blood vessel, are known as hemorrhagic. Both types restrict blood supply to the brain, causing brain cells to die. Ischemic strokes can be treated with injections of a clot-busting medication that dissolves them.
The device has a vibrating top
The device has a vibrating top which causes a mild sensation on the skin’s surface. It is most effective if started within four hours after the stroke occurs. Currently, only a small percentage of patients are diagnosed in time to get this treatment as it takes a while to establish the cause of the stroke, usually done with a CT scan.
But the developers of the new device, say it could have an effect for up to 24 hours after a stroke has occurred because it can dislodge even large clots, and break them down. This means it could also make drugs work more effectively.