Vagus Nerve Stimulation May Improve Stroke Recovery

HealthDay News — In a study presented at the annual American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, held from February 22-24 in Houston, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) enhanced arm movement in a small group of stroke patients with chronic arm weakness.

Seventeen study participants (mean age, 59.8 years) had the device implanted, with half randomized to receive VNS and half to receive sham stimulation. All had suffered ischemic strokes and took part in 6 weeks of intensive physical therapy. Their strokes had occurred up to 5 years prior to the study and had caused chronic arm weakness.

More patients receiving VNS experienced enhanced arm movement, and those patients continued to improve throughout the 90-day study period, study author Jesse Dawson, MD, director of the Scottish Stroke Research Network and a clinical researcher at University of Glasgow, told HealthDay.

“VNS appears feasible and safe in adults with chronic stroke,” the authors conclude. “This pilot study confirms the first feasibility study results. A pivotal study will be undertaken for U.S. commercial (premarket approval application) approval.”

Disclosure: The study was funded by the VNS device’s manufacturer, MicroTransponder, based in Texas.


Dawson J, Francisco G, Yozbatiran N, et al. A randomized double-blind pilot study assessing vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) during rehabilitation for improved upper limb motor function after stroke. Presented at: 2017 International Stroke Conference. February 22-24, 2017; Houston, TX. Abstract LB18