At Home Instead West Lancashire & Chorley we will be taking a regular look at the future developments in health care and, in particular, the potential benefits that these might bring.
This month in our first feature we are concentrating upon a clinical trial involving artificial hibernation to treat strokes. Edinburgh University has announced that it will commence a study later this year as part of a larger European wide initiative called the EuroHYP-1 study. It will involve 1,500 stroke patients from 15 European countries, 200 of which will be from the UK.
The treatment involves cooling the body by two degrees to prevent further damage to the brain. Cold intravenous fluids and cooling pads will be used to bring the body's temperature down from 36.8 degrees to between 34 and 35 degrees.
The technique is already used to reduce brain injury after cardiac arrests and birth injuries. It is hoped it will have the same positive effect in stroke victims. The trial is trying to test whether this treatment will make a difference to patients, suffering typical strokes, in everyday hospitals.
Following admission to hospital patients will be asked if they want to take part in the study or, if they are not able to give consent because of their stroke, it will be possible under certain circumstances for relatives to agree on their behalf.
There are very few treatment options currently available for stroke sufferers and the clinical trials have left many professionals quite excited to see a European wide resource allocated to such a worthy study. The clinical trial will begin in the autumn of 2012 and last until 2017. Preliminary results are expected in 2018.