STROKE: What It Is, and How California is Fighting Back
by Don C. Reed, author “CALIFORNIA’S WAR ON CHRONIC DISEASE, World Scientific Publishing, April 2023
My stroke was a subtraction, a lessening of mental and physical abilities. I heard a soft pop, experienced a slight headache, and — and this was strange — I had to “spell out” my words before I could say them. Like: “M-y — n-a-m-e — i-s — D-o-n”, visualizing them, letter by letter, on a little blackboard in my mind.
Also, my boyhood stammering returned. I would “block” and be unable to start a sentence for several annoying seconds, standing there with my mouth open — but nothing coming out.
At meetings I would just sit there, unable to speak, as if I had nothing to say. The truth was I had plenty to say; I just could not make it come out.
The visualization has since gone away; the stammering has not. I have had to learn to speak again: forcing air across the portions of the throat which influence speech — an agonizing, humiliating, mechanical process. Sometimes just the risk of failure stops me, even now; it is so much easier just to stay silent…
And so I stammer on, sometimes blocking, and I see the listener shifting foot-to-foot, waiting for me to get the words out.
And I am one of the lucky ones.
What might have happened?
“Stroke is the number one cause of disability, the second leading cause of dementia (madness), and the third leading cause of death in adults.”
Disability, dementia, death…
In America alone, approximately “800,000 people will have a stroke this year… 140,000 will die of it…(1)”
What exactly happens?
“A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a vessel in the brain…cells begin to die within minutes…”
The loss of brain cells can bring devastating effects: including the loss of memory, language, and the control of bodily functions, up to and including paralysis.
With a direct cost to America of $35 billion per year (not counting indirect costs like missed work which could triple the amount: raising the expense to an annual $103.5 billion) stroke is financially as well as physically damaging. (2)
CIRM, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is fighting back against stroke, attempting to use different types of stem cells — “neural stem cells, embryonic, and reprogrammed… to replace cells lost during a stroke….
Scientists need to learn the best way of delivering cells into the brain. Other researchers are seeing if it’s possible to activate the stem cells in the brain to repair the damage. There is even a special gel, a matrix (3) for stem cell growth and nerve repair.”
How are they doing?
One researcher said, “We are now in a position to state how stem cells communicate with the brain to elicit recovery after a stroke….we intend to focus on the connections between neurons… By engineering the cells, we can identify which factors they secrete in the brain, and which ones (control) connections…”
How beautiful those five words are: “to elicit recovery after stroke…”
Don C. Reed is the author of four books on the California stem cell program, including most recently: Science, Politics, Stem Cells and Genes: CALIFORNIA’S WAR ON CHRONIC DISEASE, from World Scientific Publishers Inc., available at a discount from:
Visit his website at: https:www.stemcellbattles.ne
His books are available from Amazon.