New clinical trial to help child stroke victims

ROANOKE, Va. - Dozens of therapists from across the country attended training in Roanoke as part of a groundbreaking clinical trial to rehabilitate children who suffered a stroke.

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC received a $13.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the Phase III clinical trial. It's the first of its kind in the country. 

This week, about two dozen therapists trained at the institute to learn a new specialized therapy, called I-ACQUIRE.

Children who suffer strokes are usually weaker on one side of their bodies and can develop serious physical or cognitive disabilities.

The new trial could change their outcomes.

"We're hoping to really pave the way for the therapy world in the future for these kids," said Kelsey Burke, an occupational research therapist at the institute.

During treatment, therapists put a cast on a child's dominant arm to strengthen their weaker side. They'll work with babies for three or six hours a day for a month and track their progress six months later.

Starting in August, therapists will treat 240 children, aged 8 months to 24 months old, at 12 sites across the country over the next five years.

If the trial is a success, researchers hope this intensive therapy will become the new standard of care across the country by 2025.

"Translate that finding into real practice," said Sharon Ramey, the lead principal investigator. 

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