The Compass Fall 2022 - Page 7


Stroke of Genius

Baylor Scott & White chosen to conduct investigational research to enhance recovery for stroke patients .

rushing your teeth , turning a doorknob , putting on your socks , picking up your keys : Most of us take for granted everyday activities that can be real struggles for someone living with the effects of stroke .
Investigational research being conducted at Baylor Scott & White Health through Baylor Scott & White Research Institute aims to determine if vagus nerve stimulation ( VNS ) delivered through a unique device created by researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas could hold new therapeutic promise . The study , which has received approval for investigational research into the VNS device ’ s use in patients who suffered hemorrhagic stroke , is enrolling patients starting this fall at Baylor Scott & White .
Powering the study is the idea that
Dr . Chad Swank
stimulating the vagus nerve , an important cranial nerve , helps the body to release its own chemicals into the brain that will
ultimately enhance brain plasticity and learning . A small device , implanted onto the nerve inside the patient ’ s neck , provides the physical stimulation . During sessions working with a physical therapist , the patient wears a neckband that powers the VNS device through near-field communication similar to a credit card reader . This means there are no batteries or wires for patients to contend with or to interfere with other testing such as
MRI imaging . Use of a traditional VNS device , approved by the FDA last year , is helping patients who had suffered ischemic stroke relearn how to use their their arms , wrists and hands .
The Right Place
Chad Swank , PT , PhD , co-investigator of the study at Baylor Scott & White , explained that the System ’ s infrastructure and experience in conducting research trials — combined with established clinical expertise — make Baylor Scott & White the right place to study experimental treatment methods that may enhance care for patients today and well into the future .
“ After a stroke , life doesn ’ t look the same ,” said Dr . Swank , who is also a board certified clinical specialist in neurologic physical therapy , “ so when you work with patients and they ’ re able to recover some of the function — to get parts of their life back that they weren ’ t sure they would be able to get back — that ’ s the rewarding part of the job . If VNS plus rehab can do that to a greater or larger extent , that ’ s really exciting as a therapist .”
Robert L . Rennaker II , PhD , professor of neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas and the TI Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering , developed the device .
The Marine Corps veteran is hopeful that the device will help patients regain movement in their bodies lost to stroke or even , one day , spinal cord injuries , multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury .
“ It has been a great collaboration between UT Dallas and Baylor Scott & White , which is a world-class medical center ,” said Dr . Rennaker , who indicated his hopes for collaborations on trials for the VNS device ’ s usage in treating the limitations people experience related to a variety of diagnoses .
“ This is what I ’ ve dedicated my life to , so for me , improving quality of life for people is important ,” Dr . Rennaker said . “ When I talk to these people and they say , I can open a door now or I can brush my teeth , that ’ s gratifying .”
Funding Care for the Future
Real estate mogul and philanthropist Marc Paskin generously donated to support the investigational research into the VNS device ’ s use for patients with hemorrhagic stroke . Paskin , known for his appearance on ABC ’ s “ Secret Millionaire ,” suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and is determined to create more opportunities through research for stroke patients to regain lost abilities .
Through the Marc Paskin Foundation , Marc funds research he believes has the potential to make a difference for survivors of stroke . He enjoys connecting innovators with available resources .
Investing in research at Baylor Scott & White , he said , is a no-brainer : “ They can handle everything from medical care to therapy ; they cover all the different angles . It ’ s positive and it opens the possibility to help a lot of people .”
The effects Marc feels from his own stroke are “ minor compared to what others have experienced ,” he said , but that experience has inspired him to educate himself on all aspects of stroke , including possibilities still on the horizon for recovery .
“ I thought if I could help people get better , that would be my mission in life ,” Marc said .
For information on how you can support innovative research at Baylor Scott & White , contact Christina Goodman at 214.820.4408 or Christina . Goodman @ BSWHealth . org .
Having once recovered from a hemorrhagic stroke , philanthropist Marc Paskin is helping make a difference for other stroke survivors .