Researchers at MUSC and the University of South Carolina (USC) are launching a joint research trial, funded by the National Institute on Aging, to determine if a new form of non-invasive brain stimulation called transcranial direct current stimulation, given during speech therapy, could potentially improve language function in stroke patients.

The research trial is the first multi-site study of this new technology and builds on earlier work conducted at USC by the principal investigator, Julius Fridriksson, Ph.D. During a five-year period, the study is scheduled to enroll 74 patients. The local site investigators at MUSC include David Bachman, M.D., Mark George, M.D., and Leonardo Bonilha, M.D., Ph.D.

Affecting as many as 700,000 people each year, strokes are an all too common problem in the United States. If the left side of the brain is damaged by the stroke, many patients will develop significant problems with speech and language.

These symptoms are referred to as aphasia. Patients with aphasia often may have a great deal of difficulty expressing themselves either through spoken words or writing. In more severe cases, aphasic patients may have difficulty understanding what people say to them. Although many aphasic patients will recover, more than 60 percent continue to struggle even after a course of speech therapy.

This study is unique in that it builds on relationships and systems from the past decade through the Centers for Economic Excellence, now called SmartState.

For information, contact Sheri Davis at 792-2845 or Astrid Fridriksson in Columbia at (803) 777-5931