Strokes, Inflammatory Concussions, and Vagus Nerve Stimulation

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The sudden lack of blood flow to a region of the brain that results in damage to brain tissue is referred to as a stroke.  This concept is commonly understood by most patients and physicians.

But what is not widely known is that a stroke results in a wave of inflammatory stress throughout the brain that causes a secondary injury to brain tissue distant from the original stroke injury.

This is one source of brain injury that I often refer to as an inflammatory concussion.

The inflammatory stress throughout the brain is the result of a release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemicals released from white blood cells) and the abnormal activation of microglia (white blood cells in the brain) which culminates in the equivalent of a concussion.

Furthermore, many of the residual symptoms a person is left with after a stroke are from this inflammatory concussion and are now potentially reversible.

If someone experiences a stroke that affects their motor system such that they have weakness on one side of their body, they commonly experience chronic symptoms that originate in another area of the brain that was not directly damaged by the lack of blood but was injured by the inflammatory concussion.

For example, poor memory, fatigue, dizziness, poor balance, and constipation are common symptoms after damage to the autonomic nervous system from a physical concussion.  These same symptoms often occur after the inflammatory concussion effect of a stroke.

If the chronic weakness and immobility of an arm or a leg after a stroke are not bad enough, the addition of the autonomic dysfunction symptoms of poor balance, dizziness, and poor memory can substantially decrease the patient’s quality of life.

Fortunately, many of these secondary autonomic symptoms along with a portion of the residual weakness from the stroke itself are now potentially reversible with my patented science-based treatment program The Nemechek Protocol® for Autonomic Recovery.

The Nemechek Protocol® consists of methods, based on my medical consultative and treatment services, for preventing, reducing or reversing acute and/or chronic autonomic damage by the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines.   This encourages proper cell function, especially when combined with targeted Vagus nerve stimulation.

The Vagus nerve is the autonomic nervous system’s longest nerve and it carries most of the autonomic parasympathetic signals from the brain down to all the organs of the body.  The Vagus nerve also collects and transmits information that is gathered from throughout the body upward to the brain.

The body also primarily regulates inflammation though the signaling of the Vagus nerve.  It is the restoration of one’s proper inflammation control that becomes particularly important to healing when dealing with residual autonomic damage after a stroke.

Vagus nerve stimulation, abbreviated as “VNS”, with a surgically implanted device has been performed for almost twenty years in individuals with treatment-resistant epilepsy and depression.  It has proven remarkably safe and effective in the reduction of seizures and depression.

In the past few years the ability to perform VNS has expanded as the Vagus nerve can now be stimulated without the expense or risks of surgery. The Vagus nerve has a small nerve branch that lies just below the surface of the skin in certain areas of the ear.  This branch of the ear can be stimulated with an imperceptible electrical current and this is proving to have the same clinical benefits as the surgically implanted device.

The Vagus nerve stimulator is typically worn two to four hours a day while the patient goes about their routine daily activities.  When combined with purposeful efforts and moving the limb affected by the stroke, the pathways involved with those efforts are preferentially restored and limb function may improve.

I am an internal medicine physician and my private office is located in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area.

For more information on the Autonomic Nervous System you may call my office at 623-208-4226 or go to my website www.AutonomicMed.com.

The information in this post is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.  This information is not intended to be patient education and does not create any patient-physician relationship.

© 2019. Nemechek Consultative Medicine. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

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