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1.  Longitudinal effects of lesions on functional networks after stroke 
While ischemic stroke reflects focal damage determined by the affected vascular territory, clinical symptoms are often more complex and may be better explained by additional indirect effects of the focal lesion. Assumed to be structurally underpinned by anatomical connections, supporting evidence has been found using alterations in the functional connectivity of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data in both sensorimotor and attention networks. To assess the generalizability of this phenomenon in a stroke population with heterogeneous lesions, we investigated the distal effects of lesions on a global level. Longitudinal resting-state fMRI scans were acquired at three consecutive time points, beginning during the acute phase (days 1, 7, and 90 post-stroke) in 12 patients after ischemic stroke. We found a preferential functional change in affected networks (i.e., networks containing lesions changed more during recovery when compared with unaffected networks). This change in connectivity was significantly correlated with clinical changes assessed with the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale. Our results provide evidence that the functional architecture of large-scale networks is critical to understanding the clinical effect and trajectory of post-stroke recovery.
PMCID: PMC3734780  PMID: 23715061
concordance; dual regression; heterogeneous lesions; intrinsic functional connectivity; resting-state fMRI
2.  Automated real-time text messaging as a means for rapidly identifying acute stroke patients for clinical trials 
Trials  2014;15(1):304.
Recruiting stroke patients into acute treatment trials is challenging because of the urgency of clinical diagnosis, treatment, and trial inclusion. Automated alerts that identify emergency patients promptly may improve trial performance. The main purposes of this project were to develop an automated real-time text messaging system to immediately inform physicians of patients with suspected stroke and to test its feasibility in the emergency setting.
An electronic standardized stroke algorithm (SSA) was implemented in the clinical information system (CIS) and linked to a remote data capture system. Within 10 minutes following the documentation and storage of basic information to CIS, a text message was triggered for patients with suspected stroke and sent to a dedicated trial physician. Each text message provided anonymized information on the exact department and unit, date and time of admission, age, sex, and National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) of the patient. All necessary information needed to generate a text message was already available – routine processes in the emergency department were not affected by the automated real-time text messaging system. The system was tested for three 4-week periods. Feasibility was analyzed based on the number of patients correctly identified by the SSA and the door-to-message time.
In total, 513 text messages were generated for patients with suspected stroke (median age 74 years (19–106); 50.3% female; median NIHSS 4 (0–41)), representing 96.6% of all cases. For 48.3% of these text messages, basic documentation was completed within less than 1 hour and a text message was sent within 60 minutes after patient admission.
The system proved to be stable in generating text messages using IT-based CIS to identify acute stroke trial patients. The system operated on information which is documented routinely and did not result in a higher workload. Delays between patient admission and the text message were caused by delayed completion of basic documentation. To use the automated real-time text messaging system to immediately identify emergency patients suitable for acute stroke trials, further development needs to focus on eliminating delays in documentation for the SSA in the emergency department.
PMCID: PMC4133070  PMID: 25073719
Acute trials; CIS; IT-based; Notification tool; Patient identification; Recruitment; Selection criteria; Stroke
3.  Rate of cardiac arrhythmias and silent brain lesions in experienced marathon runners: rationale, design and baseline data of the Berlin Beat of Running study 
Regular exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health but a recent meta-analysis indicated a relationship between extensive endurance sport and a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, an independent risk factor for stroke. However, data on the frequency of cardiac arrhythmias or (clinically silent) brain lesions during and after marathon running are missing.
Methods/ Design
In the prospective observational “Berlin Beat of Running” study experienced endurance athletes underwent clinical examination (CE), 3 Tesla brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), carotid ultrasound imaging (CUI) and serial blood sampling (BS) within 2-3 days prior (CE, MRI, CUI, BS), directly after (CE, BS) and within 2 days after (CE, MRI, BS) the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011. All participants wore a portable electrocardiogram (ECG)-recorder throughout the 4 to 5 days baseline study period. Participants with pathological MRI findings after the marathon, troponin elevations or detected cardiac arrhythmias will be asked to undergo cardiac MRI to rule out structural abnormalities. A follow-up is scheduled after one year.
Here we report the baseline data of the enrolled 110 athletes aged 36-61 years. Their mean age was 48.8 ± 6.0 years, 24.5% were female, 8.2% had hypertension and 2.7% had hyperlipidaemia. Participants have attended a mean of 7.5 ± 6.6 marathon races within the last 5 years and a mean of 16 ± 36 marathon races in total. Their weekly running distance prior to the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON was 65 ± 17 km. Finally, 108 (98.2%) Berlin Beat-Study participants successfully completed the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011.
Findings from the “Berlin Beats of Running” study will help to balance the benefits and risks of extensive endurance sport. ECG-recording during the marathon might contribute to identify athletes at risk for cardiovascular events. MRI results will give new insights into the link between physical stress and brain damage.
Trial registration NCT01428778
PMCID: PMC3458995  PMID: 22938148
Marathon running; ECG-recording; Magnetic resonance imaging; Blood sampling; Cardiac arrhythmia

Results 1-3 (3)