For those suffering a stroke the most common after effect is not physical disability but extreme tiredness.
Now survivors have been given new hope, with University of Newcastle researchers finding a common sleep drug works a treat as an antidote for exhaustion.
The drug was developed in the 1980s as a safe and affordable agent for treating a range of sleep disorders.
The anti-fatigue therapy has yielded a significant reduction in chronic tiredness for stroke survivors, with transformative quality-of-life benefits for many of the participants.
Lead researcher Dr Andrew Bivard says the benefits of the drug Modafinil were clear, with no adverse effects.
“Fatigue is the most common post-stroke problem that people face, more so than a physical disability,” Dr Bivard said.
“It affects concentration to the point where they can’t do everyday tasks, so fatigue has a huge impact on the quality of life of stroke survivors.”
“We saw more than a 10 per cent improvement in self-reported fatigue, which also resulted in a quality-of-life increase that, to our knowledge, hasn’t previously been achieved in a stroke survivor population,” he said.
The 15-month trial recruited 36 patients, who were experiencing severe, debilitating fatigue while living at home.
All participants received both the placebo and drug and were measured for factors such as fatigue, quality of life, cognition and mood.
“Surprisingly we saw no change in mood but we did see an improvement in cognition, with people able to think more clearly,” he added.
“We’re now planning a Phase 3 international trial that will aim to recruit 400 patients. If successful, we believe this will make a big difference for thousands of stroke survivors.”
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