Recovering From A Stroke As Quickly As Possible

After a stroke survivor has stabilized they will move to the next phase of recovering from a stroke. This will include the stroke rehab part of recovery. Stroke rehab will include physical or mental therapy focused on helping the stroke survivor with regaining any independence and working on any difficulties they may have had after the stroke. Strokes are estimated to affect up to 700,000 people annually with more than 70 percent of those being first time stroke survivors. Recovering from a stroke is not an easy process but it can be made a lot easier by getting proper stroke rehab advice and recommendations.

Stroke rehab in an outpatient clinic is often restricted by the limited time and resources that the facility has. This results in a short and quick period of rehab where patients are rushed through a quick course of rehab. The alternative is private therapy. This can be very costly in both finances and travel time. Unless you are fortunate to have financial abundance this may not even be an option. This leaves stroke survivors recovering from a stroke at home.

Often without proper guidance or knowledge of how to adequately perform stroke rehab the patient and family members may do very little. Or worse yet they may just accept the level of function the stroke survivor has and leave it at that. This is a pity. While there certainly are limitations to recovery from a stroke I feel unless survivors have performed an intense and properly constructed and documented program recovering from a stroke can always be improved. Knowing what to do and how to do it is vital for the best recovery efforts.

One principle that has revolutionized recovering from a stroke is the concept of neuroplasticity. This is a fancy way of saying the adult brain is capable of change. The adult brain has been shown to adapt to the demands we place upon it. This is a key concept for stroke rehabilitation where we have areas of the brain that have been damaged and are resulting in functional deficits for the survivor. It is possible through proper rehabilitation that the brain is able to rewire itself and figure out a way to start perform some of these lost functions again. Very exciting news for stroke survivors and their family.

The sad part is many people are still not aware of this concept. It should be one of the first things taught to stroke survivors and their families and it should form the basis of all people recovering from a stroke. However the reality of the matter is that it is not. Many patients are given inadequate advice about their recovery potential. New research has discovered exciting exercises that take advantage of sciences newest understandings of how the brain functions and recovers. The great news is that it does not have to cost a lot of money to have access to these advanced therapies. Recovering from a stroke has never been easier for survivors to do given the right tools and information.

Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Stroke Therapy?

New advances in stroke therapy are helping stroke survivors more than ever. A stroke involves a loss of blood and oxygen to parts of the brain. The two main causes of strokes are ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke implies a clot or embolism that has cut off the blood supply and a hemorrhagic is due to the blood vessel wall bursting. The end result is the same. An area of the brain has been deprived of oxygen and is damaged. The extent of disability after a stroke depends on many factors. The degree of damage and the area of the brain that has been damaged. However, all hope is not lost. New discoveries in  stroke therapy are shedding light on how best to recover.

It is estimated that over 700,000 people every year suffer a stroke. Once a survivor has been stabilized the road of stroke recovery begins. Stroke therapy usually begins in an outpatient clinic or private specialist centre. After a certain time period stroke survivors are left to fend for themselves. Stroke therapy can be expensive and therefore a financial burden to have long extensive ongoing stroke therapy. This leaves more and more survivors and their families with shorter periods under professional guidance and looking to start some form of home rehabilitation.

Stroke therapy at home is easier said than done. It can be very confusing to know what to do, how to do it and for how long. A good starting point is to look at improving any deficits that a survivor may have. We can look at areas of the body and areas of the mind to make things easier. The body can be broken into the ability to move parts of the body and the ability to feel parts of the body. The mind can relate to deficits in ability to think, reason and remember. Common issues with the mind can include memory problems, language issues or spatial awareness.

In the body we look for any areas that are lacking sensation or feeling. These areas may feel numb to the survivor or have a feeling of pins and needles. There may be patches of skin that feel like this, whole limbs or one half of the body. Also with the body there may be areas that are paralyzed or unable to move. Although obvious but tailoring treatment to these areas and concentrating on them can really help make stroke therapy more efficient. With the mind depending on which hemisphere of the brain has been damaged we classically get two common issues. Issues with language denote damage to the left hemisphere of the brain and issues with spatial awareness relate to damage on the right side of the brain.

A whole world of exciting and revolutionary stroke therapy exists. Unfortunately the masses and the people who need it the most are usually not exposed to it. You can learn and perform cutting edged and advanced stroke therapy in the comfort of your own home. Imagine the possibilities.

Stroke Treatment That Works

With the advent of new technology and better understanding of the brain the face of stroke treatment is changing rapidly. However, some therapist and patients still remain in the dark. In the United States alone a person suffers a stroke every 45 seconds. Approximately 700,00 people every year suffer from a stroke. Out of this large number about 500,000 are first occurrences, while the remainder are repeat strokes. The disability resulting from stroke can vary greatly and really depends on the extent of damage and the area of the brain that has been affected.

There are two types of strokes that can happen: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Both result in the same reduction of blood flow and therefore oxygen to areas of the central nervous system resulting in damage to those areas. Ischemic relates to the fact that there is a blockage of blood flow caused by an obstruction of some sort like a blood clot. There are responsible for a vast majority of strokes accounting for 70-80% of strokes seen. The remainder of strokes are made up of hemorrhagic strokes which means that something has happened to the blood vessel wall causing a bleed of some sort. Regardless of the type of stroke the need for stroke treatment still remains.

The advancement of stroke treatment took leaps and bounds in the 1990’s, which was dubbed “the decade of the brain”. During this period scientists made startling discoveries related to stroke rehab and stroke recovery and they continue to do so. The most popular discovery that is re-writing the medical books is termed neuroplasticity. The term neuroplasticity flies in the face of the commonly held misconception that the adult brain is a fixed rigid structure incapable of change. This is a revelation for stroke treatment and final allows an understanding of the stroke recovery process that has been witnessed for so long.

This startling new concept of stroke treatment should have been embraced and swept through stroke rehab facilities. Yet, decades later we still see out dated and ineffective methods of stroke rehab being utilized. Obviously it does also take time for new changes to be implemented on a wide scale. After a stroke survivor has stabilized the stroke rehab and recovery process should be the main concern. Restoring some form of independence, mobility and function can go a very long way to helping change the life of a stroke survivor. The a proper understanding of the latest research a very comprehensive stroke treatment program can be constructed for a stroke survivor.

To maximize recovery and improve stroke rehabilitation a stroke treatment program should embrace the new science of brain recovery. With a better understanding of how the brain recovers and stroke rehab program can be put together that focuses on areas of the brain that need treatment the most. This may be a particular area of the brain or even a hemisphere of the brain that requires more specialist rehab and focus. This tailored approach addressing the stroke survivors needs will yield better and faster results than a conventional stroke treatment program.

New Stroke Drug DP-b99 Reaches Phase III Testing

A stroke drug called DP-b99 by the company D-Pharm Ltd has reached phase III testing. Phase III testing is an important stage for a drug after it has initially been proven safe, it will undergo a randomized controlled multicenter trials on a large patient base (300-3000+). The real goal of phase III is an assessment of how effective the drug is compared to current protocols.

DP-b99 has ongoing phase III trials and that the protocol for testing will be published online in the International Journal of Stroke and in the August 2011 print edition. The aims of the study are to assess safety and the ability of the drug to improve outcome in moderately severe acute ischemic stroke patients.

About DP-b99

DP-b99 is what is called a broad-spectrum neuroprotective drug that deals with a wide range of brain damaging processes that happen in stroke patients. In earlier Phase I and II studies that were preclinical and clinical DP-b99 showed efficacy and safety. In a Phase II trial involving 150 ischemic stroke patients, DP-b99 increased by double the amount the percentage of recovered patients. DP-b99 must be administered within a nine hour therapeutic window.

At this stage it certainly looks very promising for DP-b99. Unfortunately it seems that it only has a small therapeutic window or opportunity to be administered.

More information can be found here at new stroke drug DP-b99.

Stroke Gait Therapy Combines Thinking Skills with Walking

A new 4 year research program focused on a unique way to teach stroke victims how to walk is sponsored by the American Heart Association and being conducted by Prudence Plummer-D’Amato, who is an assistant professor of physical therapy at Northeastern University. The project with be conducted at New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn, Mass.

What is so special about it is that it will compare traditional physical therapy that uses just walking as the therapy with a group that uses walking plus some cognitive (thinking) skill such as talking or counting numbers backwards. The ability to walk and carry on a conversation is something that many stroke survivors have problems with. This is called shifting attention and it could also mean paying attention to street signs when walking and potentially may disrupt social skills.

The outcomes will be very interesting. Is it possible that under a more demanding situation (the thinking tasks) that the motor skill of walking could be more quickly improved or enhanced? I guess only time will tell.

The goal of the study is purely functional with the aim of improving physical rehabilitation and allowing therapist to implement therapy that yields real world results. This appears to be a very good outcome to aim for. Real world application and function is what it is all about. Therapies that can enhance the quality of life for stroke survivors are much needed.

You can read more about the stroke walking research here.

The ForceShoe For Gait Therapy

The wonders of technology never cease to amaze me, especially when they are applied to gait therapy and stroke recovery. From the Netherlands comes this very clever invention, which not only has the potential to collect very valuable data but save time and cost of commuting to specialist appointments.

Therapies that can make services more easily accessible for stroke survivors is a great idea and there should be more of them.

Designed to help medical professionals analyze precisely how a stroke affected individual is using their feet, these sneakers have a slew of sensors that measure the location where the individual is putting pressure as they walk. This data then helps them to develop therapies to aid the patient as they relearn walking.

Created by research workers at The University of Twente in the Netherlands, the ForceShoe transmits the collected information wirelessly to some personal computer for evaluation, meaning the individual no longer needs to go to a specialized movement laboratory.

Professor Peter Veltink sees a lot of uses outside of rehabilitating stroke patients, and thinks there’s great probability of the shoe in sports medicine assisting professional athletes to improve their jumping and running methods.

Although the shoe may look a bit cumbersome, that is OK I guess it is in the function not fashion stage of development. Learn more about the ForceShoe for gait therapy.

Scientist One Step Closer to Reversing Stroke Damage

I want to share with you some cutting edge research on stroke treatment that is in process. What is great is that this is an all natural treatment.

Each year, 750,000 Americans suffer a stroke and more than 150,000 die.

The sooner you get therapy, the better chance you have got to survive. Now, researchers may have found a new way to stop, and even reverse, injury from a stroke.

LSU scientists have been looking for a approach to stop the damage.

A group led by LSU Neuroscientist Dr. Nicolas Bazan discovered that one injection of DHA, that is a very important element of fish oil, can protect the brain for approximately five hours following a stroke as well as prevent the damage.

DHA is looking exciting for scientists because it does a double combination: protection of cells and potentially reversing damage of cells that are in the process of being affected. So it can protect and potentially minimize the consequences of the stroke.

It is still early, but some are calling it a wonderful breakthrough.

Administering clot-busting drugs happens to be the sole treatment for ischemic stroke. But, only 3-5 % of stroke patients really benefit from these medications.

LSU scientists hope to start human clinical trials using the new fish oil substance inside 2 or 3 years.

The DHA treatment has already been shown to be beneficial for patients with coronary heart disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and age-related macular degeneration. This is actually the very first time its potential for stroke has been explored. Dr. Bazan and his team found that DHA therapy is not only able to salvage brain tissue that would have rotted, but its use also renders some of the affected areas indistinguishable from normal tissue within a week.

A summary of the research paper can be found here: Reversing stroke damage.

Musical Inspiration From Stroke Survivors

I came across a really inspirational articles that I thought I would share with you. It is a story of 4 stroke survivors who have made a music group. Initially they started to help with their own recovery but they were having so much fun they thought they would bring it to a wider audience.

Now they are an inspiration to many people who are battling illness

Joe Webb flipped over his ukulele and beamed when he showed off the message he has affixed to the back: “You Can Do It.”

“We’re telling people you can get better,” said Webb, 67, an Orangevale retiree who suffered a stroke six years ago.

“The music is only half of it. The thing with the group is to tell people we’re getting better. You don’t just have to sit and watch TV and die.”

These people call themselves the Survivors, and they create music with each other. Within the Sacramento suburbs, Webb, Sue Steindrager, 62, plus Zeke Lewis, 82, all have recovered from strokes, and Lewis’ wife, Dee, 77, made it through breast cancer.

Now they’re setting an illustration of this positive outlook for some individuals struggling with the devastation of health issues, especially brain disease: how to make it through and get on with life.

Stroke, the country’s leading reason for long-term impairment, affects 795,000 individuals each year in america. Three-quarters of them are sixty five and older, based on the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Recovery is usually slow as well as difficult – plus discouraging.

20 years following her stroke, Steindrager still struggles somewhat with aphasia, or putting her thought processes into words. Zeke Lewis, a retired machinist who lives in North Sacramento, still has trouble keeping his emotions under control after his 2009 stroke.

The quartet met at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute support group for stroke patients as well as their caregivers.

Webb had been an amateur musician who turned to the ukulele when playing the banjo again turned out too difficult. Zeke Lewis was raised enjoying the trombone, sousaphone, banjo and mandolin. Now he is able to only handle the harmonica. But that’s OK, since his wife has utilized the autoharp to fill in the space.

And Steindrager started trying to play the ukulele soon after she saw how much it helped Webb recover his hand co-ordination – and how much fun he had by using it.

The team has played at stroke support group luncheons plus a 60th wedding anniversary party for a stroke survivor.

Experts have long known music can play a role in stroke patients’ recovery. The parts of the brain managing speech and music are different, so not being able to talk does not keep individuals from participating.

What a great story! You can read the whole article here: Music helps stroke survivors.

Life Saving Drug Still Not Being Used Enough for Stroke Recovery

Use of a life-saving clot-busting drug to deal with ischemic strokes practically doubled from 2005 through 2009, but the rates still continue to be lacking, a new study discovers.

Acute ischemic stroke occurs any time a blood clot cuts off blood circulation to the brain. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) stands out as the only thrombolytic (clot-dissolving) medication accepted to deal with this kind of stroke in america, and it can stave off fatality plus enduring disability, but only if it’s given inside of 3 to 4.5 hrs of stroke onset.

“Overall, tPA treatment rates are improving, but the proportion of ischemic stroke patients receiving the therapy remains very small,” said research author Dr. Opeolu Adeoye, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. “The delayed hospital arrival in the majority of stroke patients is probably the most important factor contributing to low treatment rates.”

The results will be printed June 2 in the journal Stroke.

In the study, investigators used Medicare records and drugstore billing codes to ascertain if tPA use had increased responding to steps targeted at improving access to this treatment.

In 2005, 1.1 percent to 1.4 percent of acute ischemic stroke sufferers received a thrombolytic drug, and 3.4 percent to 3.7 % acquired one in 2009.

However after adjusting the figures to account for billing or coding mistakes, the study discovered that up to 5.2 percent — or about 36,000 from the 700,000 Americans who had an ischemic stroke in 2009 — received tPA. The study did not track individuals after hospital discharge, so it doesn’t provide any data about how they fared following treatment. The assumption is that the tPA did preserve function and stop lasting stroke-related impairment.

“Increasing public awareness of stroke signs and symptoms, and earlier hospital arrival by stroke patients remain important goals for improving treatment rates further,” Adeoye said. “The treatment can only be given in the first few hours after a stroke, but many patients delay seeking care, hoping the symptoms will go away,” he noted.

“If someone is suspected of having a stroke, 911 should be called and the person immediately transported to the nearest stroke-ready emergency department,” Adeoye explained.

Dr. Irene Katzan, director of the Primary Stroke Center with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, declared that the brand new research is excellent news and confirms what she has observed in her practice. It is satisfying to see that slowly things are moving along, she added.

In stroke care, the mantra is the sooner the better with regards to tPA use, but a lot has to take place in a really short period of time. Also, some strokes may occur while asleep so the duration of oncoming of signs and symptoms might be unknown, experts have mentioned.

Stroke symptoms might include abrupt numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (particularly on one side of the body), trouble speaking or understanding speech, sudden vision problems, sudden trouble walking, dizziness or balance problems, plus a severe headache without any additional cause.

If a person has a stroke and 911 is called, the ambulance must get them to a stroke center at the earliest opportunity, Katzan said, where there has to be procedures in place in the hospital to examine them rapidly. She said tPA can’t be utilized in hemorrhaging strokes or in people taking blood-thinning drugs, with high blood pressure or excessive blood sugar (glucose) levels. Also, there are state necessitates that direct emergency medical services to take patients with acute strokes on the closest stroke center.

“Then the patient would fly through the emergency room, get evaluated with a CAT scan and have blood work within minutes, and if they are a candidate, the intravenous tPA is started,” Katzan said.

For this purpose to occur, “everything has to be working correctly,” she explained.

Once the drug is administered in the right individual, it can certainly work wonders. “Ideally, the person’s stroke symptoms are minimal to none three months after the stroke,” Katzan said.

Yoga may help improve stability for older stroke patients

A new and recent study on the benefits of yoga for stroke survivors. I am a big advocate of yoga for anyone that is able to do it. I know that it has made a tremendous difference in my life. It is a great practice for the mind, body and soul.

What I love also about yoga is the non-competitive nature of yoga. Yoga is about acceptance. Where you’re at is perfect, what you are doing is perfect just accept it and be with it. This type of mentality is reassuring in athletic endeavors and can also be of benefit in life.

Anyways, on to the study.

Yoga is recognized for increasing strength and flexibility, however it can also be great for increasing the balance of older stroke patients.

Sustaining good balance is crucial as people age, given that falls can result in fractured and broken bones. Stroke victims can experience a much greater decrease in balance if a single side of the body is stronger than the other, placing them at increased risk for falling.

The research involved 20 veterans (19 men and another woman), average age 66, who had had a stroke. They took part in twice-weekly yoga exercise sessions taught by a yoga therapist who modified the moves. Participants did poses first whilst sitting down in chairs, gradually progressing to doing poses from the floor and while standing.

The participants improved their stability on a couple of balance measures by a typical 17% and 34%. At the beginning of the research the test subjects averaged a score of forty on the Berg Balance Scale, but towards the end they scored an average 47; a score of 46 or below indicates a danger for falling. Endurance increased as well.

“It also was interesting to see how much the men liked it,” said head investigator Arlene Schmid inside a news release. Schmid, a rehabilitation research scientist at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, included that lots of of the contributors wanted to carry on practicing yoga once the study ended.

The research was displayed at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting this week in Denver.

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