One in four people will suffer from a stroke within their lifetime. The consequences of having a stroke are often life changing, dramatically altering both physical and mental capacities. Common effects post-stroke include pain, depression, changes in cognition (including dementia), communication difficulties (aphasia) and spasticity (the often-painful, involuntary contraction of muscles and stiffening and tightness of the muscle and joints). It is perhaps therefore unsurprising that stroke is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.

However, there are measures you can take to minimise your risk of having a stroke. 90% of strokes are associated with just 10 risk factors that everyone can act to minimise: High blood pressure, minimal exercise, diet, weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, cholesterol, diabetes management, depression and stress, and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

This year, World Stroke Day wants everyone to get dancing! Being active helps to reduce the risk of having a stroke.  To raise awareness across social media, the World Stroke Organisation are asking you to “Join the MoveMent” and become part of the world’s biggest dancing chain. Visit the World Stroke Day website to find out how you can Join the MoveMent!

Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, resulting in oxygen starvation and the death of brain cells. The most common form of stroke is an ischemic stroke in which a clot occurs in an artery supplying the brain. The second type of stroke is called a haemorrhagic stroke in which a blood vessel within the brain burst, resulting in bleeding into the brain. The severity of a stroke and the resulting complications depend on the location and extent of the damage caused to the brain.

For those who are unlucky enough to suffer from a stroke, minimising the damage caused to the brain is crucial. Many of the drugs available for stoke treatment include drugs that break up clots to restore blood flow to the brain. However, even then, damage to the brain often occurs with 1 in 4 survivors going on to suffer from another stroke.

Advances in Regenerative Medicine are paving the way for a future in which some aspects of brain function could be recovered, thereby alleviating certain stroke symptoms, for example stem cell therapies are being investigated as a means to restore function to damaged parts of the brain. Development of these new technologies is still in the early phases, however, in preclinical animals models the results are promising. Nonetheless, many questions remain as to the safety of the materials used, optimal dosage and route of delivery as well as the true efficacy of these treatments in restoring human brain function after stroke. The review by Zhang et al., [1] discusses some of the problems that need to be solved in order to optimise stem cell therapy after stroke as well as for other ischemic brain injuries. The aim of RESTORE is to support and accelerate the development and availability of such Advanced Therapies such that all patients in need can benefit from the ongoing innovative research in Regenerative Medicine.

[1] Zhang et al., Journal of Stroke 2020;22(3):286-305