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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Update

Air Date: Week of

Living On Earth’s Diane Toomey reports that the bacteria which causes botulism may also help stroke patients.


TOOMEY: In the past few years, the bacteria that caused the deadly form of food poisoning called Botulism have been used to smooth out wrinkles. Now, that ability to relax muscles has been found effective against a more serious condition. After a stroke, muscle stiffness and limb spasms are common. The spasms can be so severe they interfere with sitting, even sleeping. But researchers found that a single injection of the toxin significantly reduced these spasms for up to four months. The substance works by preventing the release of acetylcholine, a chemical that enables muscles to contract. Doctors stressed that after the treatment a patient's ability to perform everyday tasks does not improve since the toxin weakens the muscles it's injected into. But, patients did experience less stiffness and pain. That's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.



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