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Research at the Stroke Institute

Here at the Stroke Institute, we have been designing and leading clinical trials in stroke since the 1980's, first with aspirin and then when neuroprotective agents for stroke were developed by our team. We have brought forward from our laboratories to clinical trials various new treatment approaches including transcranial ultrasound, adjunctive treatments with t-PA, medications that detoxify hematoma products in brain hemorrhage, and stem cells. We have successfully advanced many of these approaches to phase III clinical trial stages and continuously seek out next-level opportunities in research in our ultimate goals to better the lives of stroke patients and their loved ones.

The Stroke Institute's commitment to research and our mission to improve people's lives are at the heart of everything we do. With a firm belief in the transformative power of knowledge, we not only conduct cutting-edge research but also extend a welcoming hand to our community, ensuring that access to these invaluable studies is readily available.


Be a Part of Cutting-Edge Research At The Stroke Institute!

If you have experienced a stroke, join our Stroke Research Registry by participating in our survey below. This will allow you to express their interest in contributing to stroke-related research studies. Your input is crucial in driving forward advancements in stroke prevention, rehabilitation and recovery, mental health and pain management. By sharing your experiences and preferences, you have the opportunity to shape the development of targeted interventions that may improve the quality of life for stroke survivors worldwide. Your participation not only advocates for your own needs but also helps to make a significant impact on the broader stroke community.

JOIN THE STROKE REGISTRY

Brain Health Research

Brain health refers to the overall wellbeing of the brain. Maintaining good brain health is essential for maintaining cognitive function, memory, and mental well-being. We invite you to take a quick survey below to see if you qualify to participate in one or more brain health studies we are currently enrolling for.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Learn more about Brain Health studies below

Brain Health Studies

  • Brain Health Study: MARK VCID

    MARK_VCID_LOGO_Linked_To-Website

    Click here to learn more about MARK VCID

    With your help, we can learn what are the biological markers (or biomarkers) that can help distinguish healthy aging from dementia. We aim to enroll participants of diverse backgrounds living in the Houston area. Results from this study will provide recommendations for future clinical trials on dementia.

    Is this study right for me? 

    We are inviting women and men who are:

    • Aged 60 to 90 years
    • Hispanic, Black/African American, or non-Hispanic White
    • Currently living in the Houston area and able to attend study examinations 

    What is expected of me if I join the study?

    The study comprises an initial visit and three yearly follow-up examinations. Each study visit will include:

    • a blood draw
    • clinical and health questionnaires
    • tests of memory and thinking
    • a brain scan

    Will there be compensation?

    You will receive compensation for your participation in this study.

    Each visit is compensated with $100. You will receive up to $400 if you take part in all the four study visits.

    Who will have access to my information?

    Your information will be maintained in secure databases and kept private.


    To learn more contact:

    Heather Smith, MA, CCC-SLP, CBIS

    Speech-Language Pathologist | Research Coordinator

    Stroke Recovery Research 

    heather.smith.1@uth.tmc.edu

    (713) 500-7909 

    MARK VCID WEBSITE

  • Brain Health Study: DIVERSE VCID

    DIVERSE_VCID_LOGO_Linked_To-Website

    Click here to learn more about DIVERSE VCID 

    Diverse VCID means researchers are looking for a diverse population to study: African American, Latino and Caucasian individuals. VCID stands for Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Dementia. This study will examine Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain. 

    Is this study right for me?

    We are inviting men and women who are:

    • Aged 65 and 90 years
    • Have noticed a decline in their memory or thinking over the last 1-3 years
    • African American, Hispanic/Latino, or non-Hispanic White
    • Can attend  3 visits to a center near you over a 3–-4 year period (you have the choice to opt out of the study at any point)
    • You are able to have an MRI (you cannot have any metal in your body)

    What is expected of me if I join the study?

    • Answer some questions about yourself
    • Receive a medical examination
    • Review your medical history and current care plan
    • Complete a brain MRI and a blood draw
    • Complete memory tests and thinking

    Will there be compensation?

    You will be reimbursed $50 for your time upon undergoing the screening MRI. If it is determined you are eligible to participate and complete the remaining baseline study procedures, you will be reimbursed an additional $100 for each visit. If you complete all visits and MRIs, you will receive a total of $450.

    Who will have access to my information?

    Your information will be maintained in secure databases and kept private.


    To learn more contact:

    Heather Smith, MA, CCC-SLP, CBIS

    Speech-Language Pathologist | Research Coordinator

    Stroke Recovery Research 

    heather.smith.1@uth.tmc.edu

    (713) 500-7909 

    DIVERSE VCID WEBSITE


Mental Health Research

The Mental Health Program focuses on developing behavioral interventions, supports, and therapies for this crucial post-stroke period. We are interested in learning about how the interventions can improve post-stroke psychosocial stress so that we can improve the education and support services for those who have had a stroke and their informal caregivers in our communities.

Mental Health After Stroke Studies

  • Post-Stroke Depression

    Research study for depression in stroke patients

    If you have experienced a recent stroke within the past 4 to 12 weeks and are struggling with depression, our ongoing research study may be able to assist you.

    What you can expect:

    • No cost MRI and PET scan
    • Free mental health evaluation
    • Referral to mental health provider
    • Transportation costs covered
    • Referral to Innovative Intervention Studies for Depression

    More Information:

    Contact Mariano Montemayor at 713.486.6091 or email Mariano.R.Montemayor@uth.tmc.edu

  • Learn more about our Mental Health Program at the Stroke Institute

    Mental Health Following A Stroke

    Our brain is in charge of most things in our body, including our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When someone experiences a stroke, it can affect parts of the brain that control our mood and behavior so that they no longer work as they used to before the stroke. That is why those who have had a stroke often struggle with common mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and social isolation, during and after their recovery. In general, we call these concerns Post-Stroke Psychosocial Stress.

    Post-stroke, when patients do not get treatment for post-stroke psychosocial stress, it can take longer for them to feel better during their recovery. This can have a negative effect on survivors’ quality of life as well, which in turn can worsen the post-stroke psychosocial stress. Add to this the fact that when these patients discharge directly home from the hospital without additional supportive services they are only able to receive care from family members, spouses, and loved ones, whom we call informal caregivers. Because informal caregivers usually don’t have any medical training, they can feel overwhelmed and develop caregiver burden and psychosocial stress. Increased caregiver burden can affect the informal caregiver’s ability to help those who have had a stroke through their recovery. This means that both the patient and their informal caregiver’s psychosocial stress can increase, which can also make recovery more difficult.

    Fortunately, there are helpful therapies and supports for those who have had a stroke and their informal caregivers. Receiving these kinds of supports can improve the post-stroke recovery process and quality of care for their loved ones by reducing post-stroke psychosocial stress.

    The Mental Health Program focuses on developing behavioral interventions, supports, and therapies for this crucial post-stroke period. We are interested in learning about how the interventions can improve post-stroke psychosocial stress so that we can improve the education and support services for those who have had a stroke and their informal caregivers in our communities.

    Learn more at uth.edu/stroke-institute/programs/mental-health-core


Recovery and Rehabilitation Research

The Recovery and Rehabilitation Program at the Stroke Institute has multiple clinical trials currently underway to learn more about different ways to improve stroke recovery. Research in post-stroke recovery and rehabilitation is crucial for patients because it holds the potential to significantly improve their quality of life. Understanding the mechanisms of recovery can lead to the development of more effective therapies and interventions tailored to individual needs, ultimately enhancing functional outcomes and independence. Moreover, ongoing research can uncover innovative approaches to address the diverse challenges faced by stroke survivors, ranging from motor impairments to cognitive deficits, thereby offering hope for better recovery trajectories and long-term well-being. Take a look at our current studies and see which one might be right for you.

Recovery and Rehabilitation Studies

  • nTVNS in Chronic Stroke

    Seeking participants in a six-week research study on rehabilitation using non-invasive stimulation, called "Feasibility of Trigeminal and Vagus Nerve Stimulation in Subjects with Chronic Upper Extremity Deficits after Stroke"

    We are examining the effectiveness of a novel medical device to mitigate the damage caused by stroke. In person appointments are held at the UTHealth Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases at 6431 Fannin, 11th Floor.


    Contact:
    Emily Stevens, OTR
    Occupational Therapist | Research Coordinator
    (713) 500-7914
    Emily.A.Stevens@uth.tmc.edu 


    You may be eligible if you are:
    Between 40 and 80 years old
    Have had a stroke 6 or more months ago
    Do not have any implanted metallic electronic device
    Do not have a history of seizures or migraines that is uncontrolled by medication


    Participation involves:
    18 sessions of outpatient rehabilitation therapy over the course of 6 weeks
    Medical screenings and assessments
    Electrical stimulation applied to the forehead and outer ears


    If you’re unsure if you meet the requirements, call or email a member of the study team:
    Emily Stevens, OTR
    Occupational Therapist | Research Coordinator
    (713) 500-7914
    Emily.A.Stevens@uth.tmc.edu 

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  • SUPER Patients Needed

    We are looking for participants for a clinical trial addressing arm weakness after a stroke. Participants will be involved in an intensive 3-week therapy program and will have multiple assessments over a 6 month timeframe.

    Meet the following criteria? Contact us!

    • Age: 18-80
    • At least 6 months post-stroke
    • Some movement in affected arm
    • Can tolerate 6 hrs therapy a day

    If you’re unsure if you meet the requirements, call or email a member of the study team:
    Emily Stevens, OTR
    Occupational Therapist | Research Coordinator
    (713) 500-7914
    Emily.A.Stevens@uth.tmc.edu 

    Super-Arm-Clinical-Trial.png

  • ARM PROGRAM

    Are you a Stroke Survivor  (age 18-80) with wrist and arm weakness?

    Would you like to do exercises for your affected arm? UTHealth Stroke Institute is looking for patients to join a study that assesses arm movement after doing a routine exercise program.

    If you’re unsure if you meet the requirements, call or email a member of the study team:
    Emily Stevens, OTR
    Occupational Therapist | Research Coordinator
    (713) 500-7914
    Emily.A.Stevens@uth.tmc.edu 

    Arm=Program-Research.png

  • BIONICS

    Are you a Stroke Survivor?

    We’re looking for stroke survivors to enroll in BIONICS, a clinical trial using machine learning to develop tools that will make stroke recovery better.

    Participants will be asked to record themselves doing a provided list of exercises. Our goal is to build a program that can be used at home to give feedback on correct arm movement during home exercise programs.

    If you’re unsure if you meet the requirements, call or email a member of the study team:
    Emily Stevens, OTR
    Occupational Therapist | Research Coordinator
    (713) 500-7914
    Emily.A.Stevens@uth.tmc.edu 

    Bionics-Research.png

  • TRANSPORT-2

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    The Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease at UTHealth is looking for patients to enroll in TRANSPORT2, a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of 2mA or 4mA doses of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCs) in combination with modified Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (mCIMT) on upper limb impairment after ischemic stroke.
     
    Help us by referring qualified patients who match the following eligibility criteria:

    • Between the age of 18 and 80 years old
    • First-ever ischemic stroke that occurred in the last 6 months
    • Experienced one-sided arm weakness as a result of the stroke
    • Have NOT received injections for spasticity in the last 3 months 
    • Does not have a history of seizures (isolated febrile childhood seizures may be ok) 


    Have a patient matching the above criteria? 

    Refer them to Emily Stevens at 713-500-7914 or Emily.A.Stevens@uth.tmc.edu

    For more information on TRANSPORT2, please visit their website 


Pediatric Research

UTHealth Stroke Program has been conducting high caliber research in stroke for a long time, and our Pediatric Stroke Program is proudly carrying that tradition forward. We are part of the International Pediatric Stroke Study, where we work with other scientists from all over the world. We are also involved in other research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, as well as conducting retrospective and prospective studies. These studies focus on how we can better treat stroke when it happens and help children recover afterwards.

Want to help us on this journey? We're always looking for volunteers to join our studies. Check out the information below to learn more about our studies that are currently recruiting participants. Together, we can make life better for kids with stroke.

Pediatric Stroke Studies

  • Describe

    Describe - Coming Soon

  • I-ACQUIRE

    Perinatal Arterial Stroke: A Multi-site RCT of Intensive Infant Rehabilitation (I-AQUIRE)

    The UTHealth Pediatric Stroke Program is part of a nation-wide research study named I-ACQUIRE. This study is focused on helping young children who had a stroke when they were born. Specifically, we are trying to help children who had what is called a Perinatal Arterial Ischemic Stroke (PAS). Children who have difficulty moving one side of the body or the other from this type of stroke are potentially candidates.

    In this study, we're testing two different levels of a new kind of therapy (I-ACQUIRE) to see how it helps kids aged 8 to 36 months who had PAS. This study will include 240 children, randomly divided into three groups:

    1. Moderate Dose group: Children in this group will receive the I-ACQUIRE therapy for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks.
    2. High Dose group: Children in this group will receive the I-ACQUIRE therapy for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks.
    3. Usual and Customary group: Children in this group will continue to receive their regular therapy in their community.

    We will carefully track each child's progress from the beginning of the therapy, at the end of 4 weeks, and then 6 months after the therapy. Our goal is to learn more about the best ways to help children who have had a PAS.

    To see study flyer CLICK HERE

    The study is recruiting patients currently. If you are interested in having your child participate in this study or just want more information, feel free to reach out to Samantha Acosta at the email below.

    PI: Stuart Fraser, MD

    Coordinator: Maria Poblete

    Contact: maria.poblete@uth.tmc.edu

  • FOCAS

    The FOCAS study is a critical research project being shared by multiple children’s hospitals in the United States aimed at improving treatment for children who may have a condition called Focal Cerebral Arteriopathy of childhood (FCA). FCA is a disease that can lead to stroke in children when one side of the brain does not receive sufficient blood supply.

    While FCA is not common, it poses a serious risk due to its potential to quickly worsen, causing recurrent or expanding strokes. This study, FOCAS, is designed to determine the most effective treatment strategy.

    The study will involve two groups:

    Group A: Children in this group will receive a medication known as corticosteroids immediately upon suspicion of FCA.

    Group B: Children in this group will receive corticosteroids only if their FCA shows signs of progression.

    To gauge the effectiveness of the treatment, we will use a measure called the FCA Severity Score (FCASS). We will compare the score from the beginning of the study to 1 month later. In addition, we will measure the size of any strokes and assess overall child health outcomes at 6 months.

    The FOCAS study is poised to significantly enhance our understanding and treatment of children with FCA. The study is expected to begin in September 2023.

    The study is recruiting patients currently. If you are interested in having your child participate in this study or just want more information, feel free to reach out to Neena Patel at the email below.

    PI: Stuart Fraser, MD

    Coordinator: Antoinette W. Bernal-Tent

    Contact: antoinette.bernaltent@uth.tmc.edun

  • TOPSS

    TOlerability of transcranial direct current stimulation in Pediatric Stroke Survivors

    The TOPSS Study is a research project by the UTHealth Pediatric Stroke Program that's looking at new ways to help kids get better after a stroke. This study is for kids and teenagers who had a stroke when they were at least 1 month old and now have a hard time moving one side of their body.

    In this study, kids will try a new type of treatment for stroke. They'll get regular occupational therapy, which helps them learn to do daily tasks, along with a special treatment called non-invasive neuromodulation, which uses safe and gentle electricity to try to help the brain recover. Kids between 5 and 19 years old who have trouble moving their arm because of a stroke can join this study.

    If your child joins the study, they'll have 5 occupational therapy sessions to try to improve the use of their weak arm, and at the same time they'll also receive the non-invasive neuromodulation treatment. We hope that this might help them use their arm better after having a stroke.

    Dr. Stuart Fraser is in charge of the study, and Melika Abrahams is the research nurse who will help with the study.

    The study is open now and we are recruiting. If you or your child would like to be part of the study, you can email pedistroke@uth.tmc.edu or call Melika at 713-500-7164.

    To see study flyer CLICK HERE

    This study is partially funded through the Society of Vascular and Interventional Neurology Pilot Grant Program.

  • IPSS

    The International Pediatric Stroke Study (IPSS) is the largest childhood stroke registry in the world. UTHealth and Children’s Memorial Hermann are part of this registry, joining a worldwide network of children’s hospitals who share data about pediatric stroke to learn important information to try to help children with stroke.

    Dr. Stuart Fraser is the IPSS leader at UTHealth.

    For more information, please visit the IPSS website:

    https://internationalpediatricstroke.org/ipss-research


Stroke Prevention Research

The Stroke Prevention Program's Research department is a pioneering center dedicated to advancing our understanding of stroke and developing effective strategies for prevention. Areas of interest also include stroke disparities, and health services. Welcome to a space where innovation meets compassion, and together, we strive to make a lasting impact on stroke prevention worldwide.

Stroke Prevention Studies

  • SleepSMART

    Sleep for Stroke Management and Recovery Trial

    The primary goals of this study are to determine whether treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with positive airway pressure starting shortly after acute ischemic stroke or high risk TIA (1) reduces recurrent stroke, acute coronary syndrome, and all-cause mortality during 6 months after the event, and (2) improves stroke outcomes at 3 months in patients who experienced an ischemic stroke.

    Prior studies have shown a clear independent association between OSA, which has a prevalence similar to hypertension among stroke patients, and development of stroke and poor outcomes after ischemic stroke. If the Sleep SMART hypotheses are confirmed, a new strategy to prevent stroke recurrence and improve stroke recovery will be available.

    To learn more about this trial, please fill out this short online form »

  • VIRTUAL

    Video-based Intervention to Reduce Treatment and Outcome Disparities in Adults Living with Stroke or TIA

    This randomized trial strives to provide care over telehealth channels with remote blood pressure monitoring. Patients are asked to check blood pressure daily and also meet with their outpatient stroke provider at designated times either in person or through video visits. Benefits include a free blood pressure monitor and enhanced post-stroke blood pressure monitoring that is not typically provided to stroke patients.

    To learn more about this trial, please fill out this short online form »

Why Should You Join A Research Study?

  • Access to new treatments or interventions

    Research studies often involve testing new medications, therapies, or interventions that may not yet be widely available. By participating, you may have access to cutting-edge treatments that could potentially improve your health outcomes.

  • Contribution to medical knowledge

    By participating in research, you're contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge and potentially helping to improve treatments for future generations. Research studies rely on the participation of volunteers to gather data and test hypotheses.

  • Potential for improved health outcomes

    Participating in a research study may lead to better health outcomes for you personally. Whether you're testing a new medication or participating in a lifestyle intervention, the results of the study could positively impact your health.

  • Close monitoring and medical care

    Research studies often involve close monitoring by healthcare professionals, which can provide participants with a higher level of medical care and attention than they might receive in standard clinical settings. This close monitoring can be particularly beneficial for individuals with chronic conditions or complex medical needs.

  • Opportunity to make a difference

    Participating in research allows you to play an active role in advancing science and improving healthcare. Many people find fulfillment in knowing that their participation may ultimately lead to better treatments, improved outcomes, or even cures for diseases.

  • Access to expert guidance

    Research studies are typically conducted by teams of expert researchers and healthcare professionals. By participating, you may have access to their expertise and guidance, which can be valuable in managing your health condition or making informed decisions about your care.

  • Financial compensation or incentives

    Some research studies offer financial compensation or other incentives for participation. While financial compensation shouldn't be the primary motivation for participating in research, it can be a helpful factor for individuals who may be facing financial challenges.