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.

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.

An Effective Stroke Therapy Program

The use of stroke therapy will certainly form part of the stroke recovery process. This portion of the recovery phase is safe to start once the stroke survivor has stabilized. Once this has occurred the go ahead for stroke exercises will be given. Approximately 30 million people each year in America suffer a stroke. It can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender or age. We have come a long way to learning about how to prevent strokes with better lifestyle choices. Science has also helped us further stroke therapy by discovering new and improved techniques.

For the uninitiated stroke therapy can seem like a very daunting process. While I do not expect people to become a neuroscientist, I feel that some background understanding can go a long way to improving compliance with stroke rehabilitation and increasing motivation to undertake it. Understanding how the brain is wired up for functioning and how it will adapt to the stroke recovery process. This article will discuss three main principles needed for stroke therapy to be successful. The first principle is frequency. When we learn any new skill frequency is the key to helping the brain learn that skill. Secondly the volume and consistency of workload done needs to be enough to stimulate change but not over do it. And lastly the role of specificity. Specificity can lead to increased efficiency and speed stroke recovery.

A key aspect for stroke therapy is the frequency that stroke exercises are done. Exercises can be viewed as a form of stress that the body must change and adapt to. For example going to the gym and lifting weights is a form of stress. If applied with the correct amount of frequency the body will be forced to adapt and change. If your frequency was too low, like going to the gym once a week, it would not be enough to stimulate a change in the body. With a higher frequency, the body is forced to make changes to deal with the stress. This same principle is applied to stroke therapy, the exercises must be performed frequently enough to warrant a change in the brain.

Frequency is not the only variable to be concerned about when applying stroke therapy. With regards to stroke recovery you must also look at the volume or amount of work done with the stroke exercises. You want an amount of work that is adequate enough to stimulate the body to change. For example if you went to the gym but only walked on the treadmill for 5 minutes, your volume of work is probably too low to gain any real benefit to the heart and lungs. On the other hand if you had not worked up to it a volume of 2 hours on the treadmill may be too exhaustive and be detrimental to the body. So volume should be tailored based on individual needs and adjusted appropriately.

In conjunction with the above mentioned principles, you must add consistency to the mix for the best stroke therapy. The application of consistency over a period of time will yield the best stroke recovery results. Once again for ease of use we will use a gym analogy. If you have the right frequency and volume of exercise in the gym, but you only go for 2 weeks, can your body really change? Maybe a little. But big changes take a longer time frame, most probably 12 weeks. A long period like this of consistency with stroke exercises will ensure the best results.

An often overlooked part of stroke therapy is specificity of exercises. The brain is made up of many different parts that control different functions. To be more efficient with our stroke exercise we should use ones that are specific to the areas of the brain that need recovery. For example if you wanted to get better at swimming you wouldn’t run on a treadmill would you? That makes no sense. Yet I see poor application of inefficient exercises being given to or used by stroke survivors all the time. With the correct exercises the efficiency of stroke therapy effort can be maximized.

This article serves as a basis on the guiding principles of a stroke therapy program. Getting the right balance of all these keys will ensure the best results. I encourage people interested in stroke recovery or needing stroke rehabilitation to get up to date with the latest exercises and learn to be specific in your application of exercises for each individual as this will result in maximizing stroke recovery potential.

What Is Effective Stroke Treatment?

Stroke recovery involves some form of stroke treatment. Approximately thirty million Americans are affect every year by a stroke. A stroke means that oxygen carried by blood has been somehow compromised to an area of the brain. This can happen by an occlusion or something that physically blocks the blood such as a blood clot. It can also happen when a blood vessel bursts, which is called a hemorrhage and results in a bleed. The outcome for both causes is the same, the damaged area of the brain has impaired functioning.

The extent of stroke damage will determine the extent of the stroke treatment. The damage to the area of the affected brain depends on how severe the stroke was. The potential problems faced by the stroke survivor also depend on what area of the brain was damaged. Our brain is divided into different sections that subsequently perform different tasks, therefore damage to a particular area will affect that task performance. Part of stroke treatment will focus on retraining that task.

How does stroke treatment actually help the brain in the stroke rehabilitation process? Scientists have discovered that the brain is capable of changing and learning. Physical changes on the cellular level occur that allow the brain to learn new skills. This is termed neuroplasticity. It occurs with any learning, such as a new motor skill like dancing or a new cognitive skill like mathematics. Stroke survivors when doing stroke treatment are not usually learning new skills but learning the ability to do skills that they have lost. This could be moving a part of the body or understanding language.

On the cellular level stroke treatment starts to help cells communicate to each other. For example the cells that want to move your arm must start to communicate to the cells that are responsible for movement. When first learning or re-learning this skill the communication pathway can be likened to trying to tread a path through a forest, it is hard to find a path the first time. But over time as the same path is tread over and over again, a certain groove will be worn out and a clearer path will develop that will be much easier to walk along. The same is true with the brain, the communication becomes stronger and easier to do. Such is the goal with stroke treatment.

Stroke treatment enables the brain to form new connections so it can better perform any tasks that it was having difficulty with. This is an important part of the rehabilitation process and is vital for stroke recovery. There is a severe lack of the latest and best stroke rehabilitation exposure to most stroke survivors. Many survivors are incorrectly informed about their potential for recovery and their rehab is an outdated rushed process that leaves them well short of their recovery. I would hope that all stroke survivors are properly educated with how the brain recovers during stroke rehabilitation and that they have access to the best and newest stroke treatment.

Stroke Exercises

After a stroke has been suffered, post stroke exercises form the foundation for a stroke rehabilitation program. There are some essential points to take into consideration when selecting which stroke exercises you will do or in creating a stroke rehabilitation program. One of the most crucial aspects when putting together a stroke rehabilitation program is the specificity of the exercises we choose to allow in it.

Research have shown that the brain works together like a well organized orchestra, it is indeed made up of many distinct functioning parts with tremendous intercommunication. Some scientists argue that specialization of certain parts of the brain is what enabled humans to develop such sophisticated higher level functioning. Just like an office arrangement that may grow from a one man doing it all to having many people perform a specific role within the organization in the shape of a receptionist, accountant, manager etc. Specialization enables a part to totally focus and devote all it’s resources to one job and to also hopefully to be very good at whatsoever that job may be.

So what does this all have to do with stroke exercises and rehabilitation? Well just as specialization enables the brain function efficiently, when we focus our rehab efforts to a greater extent specifically we can enhance, speed up and make our results more efficient.

At first it may seem a little intimidating, acquiring a  bit of neurology or having a little appreciation of the brain can greatly help in selecting the most beneficial stroke exercises. The brain consists of two hemispheres – a left and a right. Each hemisphere has a inclination to specialize in certain roles. The left hemisphere is our language hemisphere and it is usual that strokes here will produce a language related deficit often referred to as an aphasia. The right hemisphere is to a greater extent visual spatially orientated and damage here often results in what is called neglect syndrome. Neglect syndrome is often displayed by the person who is completely ignorant of a area of space or even a portion or half of his own body resulting in strange behavior such as finishing only one half a plate of food, dressing one side of the body or shaving only on one side of the face.

Immediately armed with this basic information we could be more specific in our practical application of after a stroke or post stroke exercises. Of course any type of physical exercise will be better than none, but if we have an appreciation of the areas affected by the stroke or the deficits the patient is displaying then we can tailor out treatment to better help and rehabilitate the brain.

Gait Therapy effective in Stroke treatment

Gait therapy or therapy that focuses on regaining walking skills will be done by some stroke survivors. It is becoming more and more popular among physical therapists to use a treadmill for this type of rehabilition. Recent research focused on this form of gait therapy with the goal of increasing walking speed.

Gait Therapy

Gait Therapy

The theory is the basic sport physiology idea of progressive overload, where the body is stressed and asked to adapt as a response. In this case the stress is in the form of progressive treadmill training in combination with conventional physical therapy training and added neuromuscular components. Traditional and more conventional methods of rehabilition have proven ineffective in restoring normal gait to many post stroke patients.

Recent research set out to test and refine the protocol for treadmill training for stroke gait rehab. The goal of the study was to aquire clinical data that this type of treadmill training would aid the walking ability of stroke patients.

One of the main goals of the study was to conclude whether speed training on the treadmill will restore what is called “volitional gait” to stroke survivors. The research showed distinct differences in the walking of stroke versus non stroke people. This difference was termed a walking deficiency.

At the conclusion of the study, there were some specific gains for the stroke subjects which inlcuded:
*Adding strength – better strength helps gait
*Increased co-ordination – through repetition the mind body connection was retrained
* Gait improvement – a more normalised stride length
* Kinematics – the science of motion
* Endurance – a healthier cardiovascular system
* Quality of life – more confident and secure with overall walking.

The study offers a unique new way for stroke victims to improve their level of mobility and offers far reaching implications in the treatments that can improve the everyday quality of life.

What techniques have you found helpful in your gait therapy? Leave your comments below.

Dancing for stroke recovery, Benefits of Dance

It is important your stroke recovery is not a dragging and burdensome task. I always encourage patients to find activities they enjoy, it is a very easy way to increase compliance. One fun way to help your stroke recovery is dancing.

Dance is a great stroke rehabilitation tool. Once your are mobile enough you should incorporate it into your rehab program. It involves the movement and co ordination of many groups of muscles. It also works on balance and flexibility, which are health assets that are very important as we age. Also the use of rhythm and timing is very important for the brain and has been shown to be very beneficial in stroke recovery. So now is the time to get back on the dance floor.

Dancing for stroke recovery

Dancing for stroke recovery

Freestyle dancing is good for beginners to learn to keep their balance and develop their rhythm with the music. Once you feel comfortable with your balance, you can move on to learning more choreographed steps. This will help to challenge your co ordination and improve memory recall.

The great thing about dance is that it can be enjoyed at home. You may rent or purchase a video instructional or just put on your favourite musical piece and improvise. You could also hire a dance instructor or take dance classes.

The Baltimore Veterans Affair Medical Center conducted a study on aerobic dance classes. Aerobics was a popular form of exercise in the 1980s and this form of dance may focus more on an area of the body.

The study used isolated, repetitive, goal-orientated movements similar to those applied in a regular aerobic dance class except that their aerobics exercise program for stroke patients included only two isolated movements a lower-limb workout and upper extremity exercises. The results indicated that aerobic exercises helped stroke patients improve mobility and physical functioning.

With an increasing body of inspiring stories of recovery from new and innovative therapies, gone are the times that stroke survivors are given little or no hope. So what are you waiting for? Share your inspiring story below in the comments.

Stroke Rehabilitation Tips and Recovery Advice

Strokes can cause impairment in ability ranging from mild to severe. The area of the brain affected by the stroke and the severity to which it was affected determines the type of impairment a person may experience. Now a days there is a wealth of information to help educate yourself on risk factors and prevention options when it comes to strokes as well as rehabilitation options available post stroke. Regular cardiovascular exercises for your heart and lungs, keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure within normal limits are keys to stroke prevention. Addressing other risk factors such as smoking or if you have circulation or heart problems can also play a large role in preventative stroke care. The goal of this website is to present information relating to strokes with a focus on the recovery and rehabilitation aspects.

Rehabilitation & Recovery Tips.

Rehabilitation & Recovery Tips

Any type of activitity that stimulates or activites the brain can play a role in stroke recovery. Physical activities such as Tai Chi can help speed recovery time for some stroke victims. The slow controlled use of sequential movements can help with reactivating areas of the nervous system associated with motor (movement) skills. The added benefit of improving memory is achieved through the learning of the Tai Chi routines. A lot of the actions of Tai Chi are also great for improving balance, which is a vital skill to help with gait and mobility for stroke recovery. Research has also shown some added bonuses for the mind with improvements in concentration and calmness with regular practice.

It is important to understand that stroke recovery takes time and will require some hard work. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts for time and hardwork. However, this site aims to help you learn the ways to make your rehab more efficient and to maximise your results. Each day, each week and each month builds on the previous one, to help put you a little close to your goals of regaining independence. Keeping up to date and utilizing the latest advances in stroke rehabilitation and recovery can help you on your road to recovery.

Best Therapy for Stroke Rehabilitation

After a stroke a person may have impairments in movement, sensory or cognitive capabilities. Impairments related to movement may consist of posturing or spasticity of the limbs. Sensory deficits can result in absent or decreased sensation in areas of the body or altered sensation like pins and needles or numbness covering an area of the body. Cognitive difficulties can related to memory, language or spatial awareness problems. The goal of stroke rehabilitation to help work on these deficits and help improve them.

Types of Therapy

Types of Therapy

Of course specificity is important in your recovery. Understanding your deficits and tailoring your rehabilitation to your needs can greatly speed your recovery. Different therapies and protocols should be used for a communication disorder versus a spatial awareness problem. As you can imagine different therapies also for movement rehabilitation is used as compared to rehabilitating sensory deficits.

The road of stroke recovery can be a daunting one. A strong support team maybe needed. Addressing the mental aspects related to recovery can be a vital component, as the person learns the simple things in life all over again. Support groups or a counselor can really be helpful to deal with this difficult aspect of recovery. Also educating oneself on the recovery process and having a better understanding of exactly what is happening can be reassuring.

Stroke rehab should begin as soon as practically possible after the stroke. Once again tailoring treatment to the capability levels of the person is a key aspect. Working on cognitive skills while motor impairment is severe may be an approach. Or more passive sensory therapy may be appropriate. Research has now shown that it is never too late to start your rehabiliation. You can always improve from where you currently are. Other than physical therapy, some nutritional supplements can also help stroke patients recover.