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Flick of a whisker can prevent stroke damage in rats

Study suggests sensory stimulation could provide nondrug method for protecting human patients

SAN DIEGO — In the two-hour window after a stroke, flicking a single whisker completely prevents many damaging effects in a rat, a new study finds. The cheap, simple intervention, described November 15 at a news conference at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting, may represent a new way to minimize disability after a stroke.

“I think it’s one of the most profound findings that have come along in recent years,” said neuroscientist Carol Barnes of the University of Arizona in Tucson. “There is no brain damage. It’s almost a miracle. It’s almost too good to be true. Any protection would be good, but this is more than dramatic.”

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