Basically they caused rats to have a stroke by occluding an artery, and half of them repeatedly had their whiskers petted during this. They found that rats who had their whiskers stroked ("mild tactile stimulation" in medical talk) had less damage from the event.
Interesting? Yes. But to use the cliché, "further research is needed."
I have a hard time suddenly extrapolating this finding to humans (for one thing, we don't have whiskers, at least not the sensory type rodents have). We may be physiologically similar to rats, but we aren't the same.
Someone who's having a stroke certainly gets their share of "tactile stimulation"- family members holding hands, doctors & nurses examining them, IV's getting put in, blood drawn, blood pressure cuffs, etc.
But I don't see anyone showing that the touch component alone makes a big difference in Homo sapiens.
Not even in this guy.
I'm also not so sure how this could be studied. Since we don't have sensory whiskers, what do you touch in humans? Hair? Limbs? Ear lobe? And how do you sort out real tactile stimulation vs. placebo tactile stimulation? Touch only the side the patient can't feel anything on, since they won't know?
On the other hand, after many years in the trenches giving the so called "miracle clotbuster" TPA, I must say this new treatment (in my opinion) appears to be at least as effective as TPA, and a helluva lot safer.