A recent study on rats suggested that sensory stimulation, through tickling its whiskers, could help in faster recovery from ischemic stroke.
Researchers explained that stimulating the rats’ whiskers right after an infarct protected the brain’s cortex from damage by stimulating the collateral circulation of the brain. This was done within 10 minutes of the infarct.
The research was done by tickling one whisker as opposed to tickling multiple whiskers. The result came faster when multiple whiskers were stimulated.
Sensory stimulation has been used in the treatment of stroke patients, such as electrical stimulation and massages. The proponents of this research wanted to know whether acute stimulation helped in faster recovery.
The researchers were convinced that stimulation worked. Treatment was more effective when performed immediately.
Stimulation within one to two hours in rats showed that the cortex was completely protected from damage. When the same intervention started after three hours, it caused irreversible damage to the rats’ cortex. The researchers have concluded there was a time frame in which to initiate this intervention—but perhaps it is only applicable to rats and not to humans.
Additional research is required on animals, but clinical testing may be in the near future for humans, experts claim.