A good number of nootropics are regularly prescribed for neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer’s patients are often given nootropics. Parkinson’s disease can be fought with nootropics. And why not? The research backing these drugs for neurodegenerative disease is strong. Stroke, however, is a different story.
I was in my mid-twenties when I had my first personal experience with a stroke victim. Her name was Jen and she was one of my closest friends. We hung out most weekends, biking around Washington, DC, brunching and crashing the occasional house party. We were young and invincible. Though, it turns out, not quite as invincible as we thought. She was twenty-nine. She didn’t smoke. She wasn’t overweight. She biked everywhere and cooked healthy foods at home more than she ate out. She didn’t fit the profile of a stroke victim, but she suffered one all the same. Visiting her at the hospital was scary. She was shaky. She spoke slowly. Everyone was worried. Luckily, Jen made a full recovery. Youth helps, and her stroke had been minor compared to what some people suffer.
Every year more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke. Some people never fully recover. Their speech remains slow. Their thoughts become scrambled. A stroke happens when blood flow to a portion of the brain is cut off. Depending on the part of the brain, and how long it is cut off from blood supply, the severity of outcomes can vary wildly. Often, the only help patients receive following a stroke is physical and language therapy.
Researchers at Loyola University Medical Center think it may be time to change that. A recently released study found that nootropics may help stroke victims to restore pre-stroke cognitive and motor abilities. Specifically, antidepressants may help to restore motor skills while acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine may help with aphasia. The researchers, however, were quick to note that there have not been enough studies of nootropics as they relate to stroke rehabilitation to fully support their involvement. What is desperately needed, they conclude, is additional research.