Restoring brain function after stroke — bridging the gap between animals and humans
| Stroke is the leading cause of complex adult disability in the world. Recovery from stroke is often incomplete, which leaves many people dependent on others for their care. The improvement of long-term outcomes should, therefore, be a clinical and research priority. As a result of advances in our understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in recovery and repair after stroke, therapeutic opportunities to promote recovery through manipulation of poststroke plasticity have never been greater. This work has almost exclusively been carried out in preclinical animal models of stroke with little translation into human studies. The challenge ahead is to develop a mechanistic understanding of recovery from stroke in humans. Advances in neuroimaging techniques now enable us to reconcile behavioural accounts of recovery with molecular and cellular changes. Consequently, clinical trials can be designed in a stratified manner that takes into account when an intervention should be delivered and who is most likely to benefit. This approach is expected to lead to a substantial change in how restorative therapeutic strategies are delivered in patients after stroke.