In Canada there are ~50,000 strokes per year. A majority of stroke survivors are left with life long disabilities making stroke the leading cause of permanent neurological disability. Recent findings suggest that stroke injury triggers restorative processes to create a cerebral milieu similar to that of early brain development, a period characterized by rapid neuronal growth and neuroplasticity. In my lab we attempt to optimally engage these neuroplasticity/re-organizational processes to better enhance post-stroke recovery of function. We use sophisticated animal models of stroke that lend themselves to clinical translation. Examples of current research projects:
- Mobilizing endogenous stem and neuronal precursor cells (NPCs) in animals that have experienced stroke. The aim is to encourage NPCs to migrate to the injury site and reorganize remaining circuitry to take over lost function
- Use of novel drug delivery systems and nanotechnology to deliver growth factors and recovery promoting drugs to brain areas thought to be critical for mediating recovery of function
- Exercise effects on neurogenesis, angiogenesis and cognitive function
- Development of an animal model of vascular cognitive impairment characterized by executive dysfunction
- Influence of unhealthy diets (i.e. high fat, sugar and sodium) and physical inactivity on the cerebrovasculature and immune system and ultimate impacts on stroke severity and post-stroke recovery of sensory-motor and cognitive function.