UAMS Seeks Stroke Patients for Study on Preventing Falls

By David Robinson

Because alertness appears to play a role in strength and balance perception, Mennemeier will try to identify therapies that can improve alertness. The study will include up to 55 participants – people who have had a stroke affecting one side of the body and people who have not had a stroke but want to participate as a control subject. Potential study participants may call 501-526-7773 to learn more.
The pilot study examines how changes in alertness after stroke influence perception of strength and balance. Falls in the hospital and at home are related in part to misperception of strength and balance. Problems can persist months and years after stroke. The long-term goal of the study is to improve stroke rehabilitation and to prevent injury by treating problems of alertness.

“We are particularly interested in a stroke patient’s perception of strength and balance because misperception may lead to further injury due to falls,” said Mennemeier, a faculty mentor for the UAMS Center for Translational Neuroscience (CTN) and the director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory for Brain Injury Research and Treatment, which is affiliated with the CTN.

He explained that many stroke patients lack the ability to accurately gauge their balance and strength in daily life.

“Many patients with decreased alertness lose gains that were made during rehabilitation after they return home,” he said. “We want to reach out to those patients because recovery goes on for years following a stroke.”

UAMS’ stroke research includes a new telemedicine program that provides life-saving stroke treatment from neurology specialists who can communicate with rural hospitals using real-time two-way video. UAMS also is leading a four-year NIH study that will help determine the best procedure for preventing strokes caused by blocked arteries in the neck: stents or surgical removal of the artery clogging plaque.

Mennemeier’s research compliments these projects by focusing on rehabilitation and recovery. He is preparing for the start of another NIH-funded study later this year that uses an approved medication to treat problems with alertness after stroke.  

Stroke affects 700,000 people annually in the United States. As many as half of these patients may have misperception of their arm and leg strength. Up to one third of all stroke patients may fall during or following stroke rehabilitation.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or