Hope through Rehabilitation & Research
Posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
Here’s some good news: Advancements in modern medicine have succeeded in dramatically lowering mortality after stroke. In fact, stroke has recently been surpassed by lung disease and is now the fourth common cause of death, after heart disease, cancer and lung disease.
But this increased survival rate means that more patients are now living with the disability from their stroke. Currently, stroke is the number one cause of disability in the US, with an estimated 700,000 people living with disability after stroke. And unfortunately, once a stroke has occurred, modern medicine has no “magic cure” to help with the resulting disability.
This reality makes stroke prevention even more important than ever.
There are a few risk factors of stroke that are non-modifiable and beyond our control: Age, gender, race and our genetic background are facts of life that we cannot change. There are, however, modifiable risk factors. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise and diabetes. These important risk factors can very much be modified by our lifestyle choices. For example, dietary changes—like eating healthier—can help reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.
General guidelines for healthy eating include:
Choosing healthier foods doesn’t mean you have to spend more at the grocery store, either. Here are a few tips for healthy eating on a budget:
Posted on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Stroke Recovery: What to Expect
With so much left unknown about how the brain repairs itself after a stroke, it is hard to predict exactly how much a patient will recover. However, with the help of medical rehabilitation, post-stroke patients can achieve the best possible long-term outcome.
More than 700,000 people in the U.S. experience a stroke each year and 10 percent of them recover almost completely, 25 percent recover with minor impairments, 40 percent experience moderate to severe impairments and 10 percent require care at a long-term care facility. For all of these survivors, rehabilitation can substantially help them relearn skills such as talking, eating, dressing and walking, that were lost due to brain damage. Though therapy cannot reverse the effects of stroke in that it cannot undo the injury to the brain, it can help patients regain as much independence as possible.
Working towards Recovery
Rehabilitation therapy can begin as early as a day or two after the stroke, once the patient’s condition has been stabilized. At an acute rehabilitation hospital like Burke, post-stroke patients will have a team of clinicians, from physicians, nurses, speech therapists, physical and occupational therapists to a variety of other rehabilitation specialists like neuropsychologists, who will design and implement the patient’s therapy plan.
Along with medical management, patients will receive at least three hours of therapy daily that comprise:
Stroke patients may also meet with a neuropsychologist who can help them with cognitive impairments including personality changes, depression, anosognia (inability to recognize physical impairments), neglect (inability to respond to stimuli) and apraxia (inability to carry our learner purposeful movement), brought on by stroke. Burke also offers robot-assisted therapy to assist patients perform repetitive motions with their impaired limbs, helping them rebuild strength and function.
There are many facets that come in to play during recovery and each person will have varying results. It’s hard to predict how many abilities may be recovered and how soon, but in general, success depends on the severity of the stroke, motivation, skill of the rehab team, a good support network, timing of rehabilitation (the sooner started, the better), and continuing rehab activities outside of therapy.
The recovery process can be long and at times, a frustrating experience. These difficulties are common and normal, but if patients are dedicated to working toward improvement they can increase their chances for success.
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PLEASE NOTE: Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke physicians cannot answer questions about individual medical cases.