According to an early fundamental study conducted by a group of scientists at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, the hormone responsible for the male sex drive, testosterone—may help in recovery from stroke.
Leading researchers discovered the potential benefits of testosterone while studying two groups of castrated rats that had also endured strokes. Half of the rats in the study received testosterone replacement therapy, and the other half were given a placebo. The results of the study indicated that in comparison to the rats given only a placebo, the rats who received testosterone replacement therapy showed statistically significant improvements in neurological defects. The findings of the study were presented at the American Neurological Association.
Testosterone is often prescribed to men who exhibit low levels of this male sex hormone, a condition known as hypogonadism. Men with low testosterone levels suffer from a variety of symptoms, including poor muscle strength, low sex drive, anxiety, depression, and cognitive problems such as difficulty processing thoughts and maintaining focus. Scientists recognized that these symptoms mirror the ones presented and experienced by stroke victims. Researchers have indicated that they do not think the similar symptoms are merely “superficial” coincidence.
Following emergency treatment, the current after-care program for stroke patients involves therapies that were designed for those who have returned from combat without the use of a limb. While such rehabilitation focuses on rebuilding strength, stroke derives from a different set of physical and mental conditions and circumstances than those returning from combat. Specifically, the impact of a stroke damages brain tissue, presents unique mind-body challenges, and requires the expertise of neurologists.
Indeed, according to Yi Pan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology and principal investigator on the study, such techniques “may not be applicable to stroke patients.” Dr. Pan and other pioneers of neuroscience are “trying to find newer, better techniques” to improve the outcomes and quality of life of stroke patients. These techniques include pharmacological options, and “it looks like testosterone speeds up the recovery from a stroke.”
Testosterone has been indicated, utilized, and perceived primarily as a treatment for low male libido. Testosterone, however, is a hormone that is found in both men and women (in lower levels). It helps the body to maintain homeostasis (proper balance), and it functions as a crucial messenger for the body to mediate a number of important physiological processes.
While the results of the initial study from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine are still preliminary, scientists plan to conduct further research on the possible benefits of testosterone replacement therapy for stroke patients, with the hopes of studying human patients as well. This future research has the potential to reveal how testosterone may help in recovery from stroke.