UofSC Researcher Awarded $11M Grant for Stroke Recovery Research

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — A stroke researcher at the University of South has received a $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance his research.

Julius Fridriksson, a professor in the Arnold School of Public Health, studies how a person’s brain recovers from a stroke, paying particular attention to how stroke affects communication.

The need is particularly high in South Carolina, a state with the seventh highest stroke death rate in the nation in 2014. It is part of the “Stroke Belt,” a group of Southeastern states with high stroke death rates.

A stroke is also known as a “brain attack.” It occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, depriving brain cells of oxygen. When brain cells die during a stroke, the abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost.

The grant will assist Fridriksson’s research on stroke recovery and work to improve the lives and communication skills of patients after they suffer strokes.

Julius Fridriksson

(Photo: Arnold School of Public Health/YouTube)

“The need is very great,” Fridriksson said. “In the U.S., about 1 million people have aphasia and we haven’t done a very good job helping them cope with a very difficult situation, because when you can’t speak and comprehend very well that makes for a very difficult life. We need to do a lot better in helping them deal with that situation and helping them recover better.”

According to a press release, the grant will allow work on four major projects:

–Working with chronic patients, assessing a patient’s neurophysiology before starting treatment, providing behavioral treatment, and trying to predict who will respond well or poorly to treatment.

–Assessing patients who have just had a stroke, providing aphasia therapy and electrical brain stimulation, which is believed to improve the environment for recovery in the brain. The goal is to understand the best ways to enhance the outcome in patients in the days and weeks following a stroke.

–Building a computationally heavy model of who is most likely to recover and who is not, based on neuropsychological and neurological factors of patients.

–A theoretically based study that looks at neuropsychological models of speech and language in normal people and then relating those to recovery in patients.

The university will partner with Johns Hopkins University, the University of California Irvine and the Medical University of South Carolina, although most of the research is going to happen at the University of South Carolina, he said. Other researchers on the project include the Arnold School’s Dirk den Ouden, Psychology’s Chris Rorden and Rutvik Desai and Souvik Sen in Neurology, according to the release.


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