How To Recover From a Strokeadmin
Strokes are the fifth most common cause of death in the United States, and at least two-thirds of all strokes happen to patients who are 65 or older. As with any other injury or medical condition, aging does make rehabilitation and recovery more difficult. Your first stroke also increases your chances of having another; as one in four strokes are repeat cases. However, you’re not powerless to prevent a future attack, and even the most severe side effects aren’t always permanent.
If you or a loved one has recently suffered a stroke, it’s important to know exactly how it happened and what you can do to prevent further damage. The following three stroke types range in severity, as do their side effects. Learn more about your specific stroke type, symptoms, and recovery options today. As you arm your body with preventative and rehabilitative techniques, your likelihood of future attacks will drop, and even your permanent side effects may become more manageable.
1. Ischemic Stroke
Imagine a heart attack that happens to your brain, rather than your heart, and you’ll have a rough picture of the way ischemic strokes affects your body. Like heart attacks, ischemic strokes are caused by blood vessel clots that prevent blood from traveling through a vessel to reach your brain. Blood delivers oxygen to keep your brain tissue alive, so when its flow is interrupted, your cells begin to die. Permanent brain damage often occurs in the affected region.
By far the most common type, ischemic strokes account for approximately 87% of all stroke cases. They usually result in partial paralysis, which affects muscles and nerves that once received signals from the now-damaged regions of your brain. Sometimes this damage is permanent, but there are two primary ways to reverse it.
Your first, most immediate option is to tackle the blood clot itself in order to reduce the severity of the damage. Oxygen masks and clot-dissolving drugs can reverse some of the damage within three hours of the stroke’s onset, and ongoing treatments include respirators to assist with lung control and pharmaceutical options to reduce the pressure and swelling in your brain.
Your next option is to re-train your brain and rehabilitate your muscles. If you’ve lost feeling or control of certain body parts, it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to use them again. However, you will need consistent and intensive rehabilitation so that other regions of your brain can take over instead.
No matter how long this takes or how successful it is, you must also keep your affected muscles as strong and healthy as possible. Muscular contractions, bed sores, and loss of circulation result when you neglect a paralyzed body part. In order to increase the success rate of your body training regimen, you must keep your body as healthy as possible.
2. Hemorrhagic Stroke
Any stroke caused by a bleed – rather than a clot – is called a hemorrhagic stroke. Brain bleeding occurs when an artery in your brain bursts open (intracerebral hemorrhage) or begins to leak (subarachnoid hemorrhage). This unexpected pressure damages the surrounding brain cells, often irreparably. Only 15 percent of all strokes are hemorrhagic, but because the damage is so sudden, extensive, and difficult to reverse, these strokes represent 40 percent of all stroke fatalities.
Some hemorrhagic strokes are preventable; for example, high blood pressure may result in bulging or bursting arteries anywhere in your body, including your brain. Serious head injuries may also cause them. However, brain aneurysms and other arterial weaknesses are often the result of genes or aging. Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is one of several genetic conditions that increase your likelihood, because it affects the connection between the arteries and brain. Bleeding disorders may also cause aneurysms, but like AVM, many are easily treatable if you know you have it.
If your stroke was caused by the impact of a sudden injury, such as a fall or car accident, you may take anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants to reduce the swelling over time. Some regions of your brain may stop sending signals to your muscles because they’re being pushed or pulled, not because they’re permanently damaged.
However, if your stroke was the result of high blood pressure, you’re in good company – and your options are now obvious. Hypertension is the number one cause of brain bleeding, and your diet is the number one way to treat it. Avoid fatty and salty foods in favor of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and commit to at least half an hour of activity per day to make sure your body metabolizes your food correctly.
3. Transient Ischemic Stroke
Also known as a “mini stroke” or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), this stroke is a temporary version of the more serious ischemic stroke. However, the two are indistinguishable at first, because a temporary clot deprives your brain of oxygen the same way a permanent clot does. They’re also treated the same way at first, because there’s no way of knowing whether the clot will dissolve or stay put.
Most TIAs last less than five minutes, so brain damage is much less likely. However, TIAs are huge red flags. More than a third of all TIA patients suffer a more serious stroke within the next year, andup to 15 percent have another stroke within just three months. The length and quality of your life now depend on two things: your treatment and rehabilitation of the affected body parts, and your reduction of the risk factors that contributed to your stroke.
If you’ve recently had a TIA, your stroke risks are now higher, but they’re also much easier to manage. Unlike patients who are suddenly afflicted with one of the other two stroke types, you’re now aware of your increased risks and can work to reduce them. You also know exactly how a stroke looks and feels at first onset, so these risks are no longer abstract.
Recovering From a Stroke
Recovering from a stroke isn’t easy, but with the right support and a comprehensive rehabilitation program, you can regain the abilities you thought you might have lost. Many stroke sufferers view the experience as a wake-up call to make healthy lifestyle changes. No matter which type of stroke you experience — ischemic, hemorrhagic, or transient — there are recovery programs to help you improve the length and quality of your life.