New Hope for Speech Problems After Stroke
All experts interviewed by WebMD agreed that it is still too early, though, to treat stroke patients with amphetamine. Unanswered questions include the best dose, the best time to start treatment, and which of a related family of drugs might work best.
"While quite beneficial for many patients, the effect may be minimal or not effective in others, and much work remains to determine why some patients respond and others do not," Feeney tells WebMD. "Optimal treatment will likely involve a cocktail of nerve chemicals that can be given late following brain trauma or stroke to amplify the brain activity produced by therapy."
Stroke patients may also see improvements with another treatment. A study in the Sept. 8 issue of The Lancet shows that the drug levodopa, commonly prescribed for Parkinson's disease, may help stroke patients recover some of their ability to move.
Klaus Sheidtmann, MD, of the Neurologische Klinik in Bad Aibling, Germany, and colleagues divided about 50 stroke patients into two groups; one received single daily doses of levodopa, the other a placebo.
Both groups also underwent physical therapy, but after three weeks, it was just the levodopa group whose movement recovery was "significantly improved." The improvements held steady even when the patients were tested three weeks after the drug was stopped.
Sheidtmann writes that the results show "levodopa combined with [physical therapy] is an effective and safe method for improving motor recovery after stroke."