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ESOC 2021 | Optimizing VNS intensity for stroke recovery

Seth Hays, PhD, The University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX, discusses the importance of optimizing vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) intensity for optimal efficacy in stroke recovery. Altering VNS parameters influences the degree of plasticity and consequentially, the degree of stroke recovery observed. Moderate intensity VNS has shown to be the most effective at promoting plasticity and recovery, unlike low- or high-intensity VNS. Dr Hays explains that this inverted-U function, occasionally observed in neurophysiological systems, may have to do with receptor desensitization, or activation of additional pathways. Although moderate intensity VNS appears to be the most effective considering population data, Dr Hays cautions that some individuals may benefit from slightly more or less intensive stimulation due to factors such as the anatomy of one’s vagus nerve. Subsequently, greater benefits may be associated with more individualized VNS therapy in patients who suffer a stroke. This interview took place at the European Stroke Organisation Conference (ESOC), 2021.