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Hopkins doctor to study impact of electrical brain stimulation on stroke recovery

Can brain stimulation improve language therapy in stroke victims?

A Johns Hopkins researcher is among a group from around the country that will use an $11 million National Institute of Health grant to study if electrical brain stimulation and other therapies can help stroke victims recover language skills.

Dr. Argye Hillis, a professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will be part of a research team headed by the University of South Carolina seeking to improve the lives of stroke victims.

After a stroke, some patients often suffer from a condition called aphasia, which damages the parts of the brain that control language, causing speech problems. They may also have a hard time reading, writing and understanding language.

The grant, from NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, will be used to create the Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery, and will also include scientists from the  University of California, Irvine and the Medical University of South Carolina.

Hillis will lead the efforts to investigate if electrical brain stimulation can help with word retrieval beginning in the first three months after stroke.

Word retrieval difficulties are common after left-hemisphere stroke. Language therapy is the most common treatment and has modest results, Hillis says. Recent therapies that combine behavioral and brain stimulation methods may prove more promising, she said.

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