|By Paul Kilbertus
Difficulty speaking and processing language are common after a stroke – but why do some people recover more of their ability to communicate than others?
Dr. Jed Meltzer
That’s the mystery that neurolinguist Dr. Jed Meltzer is working to solve at Baycrest, an academic health sciences centre that is part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Centre for Stroke Recovery.
“With the technology we have, we can assess a person after a stroke and not only determine what their symptoms are right now but what is the maximum recovery they can possibly expect in the long run,” says Dr. Meltzer, 2011 recipient of the Kevin Duffy Rehabilitation Scientist Award. “That’s useful information because it tells us where to focus our efforts.”
Using a technique called magnetoencephalography, which measures brain activity over short periods, Dr. Meltzer is developing new ways of illustrating how stroke survivors' brains change as they regain their ability to speak. For each patient, he wants to be able to identify those areas of speech and language – speaking, understanding, reading – that offer the best possibilities for ongoing recovery.
The ultimate goal: An individualized treatment plan for each stroke patient that maximizes their chances of recovery.
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