A skin patch infused with the drug rotigotine (Neupro) may enhance the ability of some stroke patients to better focus and pay attention, say researchers at the UCL Institute of Neurology.
A severe and common form of inattention, known as hemi-spatial neglect, can be caused by brain damage following a stroke. The individual becomes unable to process and perceive stimuli on one side of the body.
For example, as the right side of the brain suffers damage, a stroke victim may become inattentive and forgetful. There may be little awareness of the left side and poor memory of common objects. Currently there are few treatment options.
Hemi-spatial neglect is one of the most debilitating symptoms of stroke, often preventing patients from living independently.
In the randomized control trial, researchers recruited 16 patients who had suffered a stroke on the right side of their brain and investigated whether the drug rotigotine could improve their ability to concentrate on their left side.
In just over one week of treatment, patients who received the drug performed much better on attention tests than when they received the placebo treatment.
Rotigotine acts by stimulating receptors on nerve cells for dopamine, a chemical normally produced within the brain.
“Inattention can have a devastating effect on stroke patients and their families. It impacts on all aspects of their lives. If the results of our clinical trial are replicated in further, larger studies, we will have overcome a major hurdle towards providing a new treatment for this important consequence of stroke,” said Prof. Masud Husain, who led the study at the Institute of Neurology at UCL.
“Milder forms of inattention occur in other brain disorders, across all ages — from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to Parkinson’s disease. Our findings show that it is possible to alter attention by using a drug that acts at specific receptors in the brain, and therefore have implications for understanding the mechanisms that might cause inattention in conditions other than stroke.”
The study is published in the journal Brain.
Source: UCL Institute of Neurology