Georgetown researchers suggest that loss of speech from a stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain can be recovered on the back, right side of the brain.

The study was published recently online in Brain.

Its senior author, Peter Turkeltaub, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center and director of the aphasia clinic at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, studied a group of 32 left-hemisphere stroke survivors, and compared results with 30 individuals who had not experienced a stroke, explains a release from Georgetown University Medical Center.

Approximately one-third of stroke survivors lose speech and language, and most never fully regain it. According to Turkeltaub in the release, loss of speech occurs almost exclusively in patients with a left hemisphere stroke, as roughly 70% of people with left-hemisphere strokes have language problems.

Per the release, the investigators found that stroke participants who had better than expected speech abilities after their stroke had more grey matter in the back of the right hemisphere compared to stroke patients with worse speech. Those areas of the right hemisphere were also larger in the stroke survivors than in the control group, Turkeltaub says.

“This indicates growth in these brain areas that relates to better speech production after a stroke,” says, Turkeltaub, also a member of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, in the release.

Turkeltaub and others on the research team are continuing their study, looking for areas that compensate for other aspects of language use, such as comprehension of speech, the release notes.

[Source(s): Georgetown University Medical Center, Science Daily]