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Stroke Treatment and Rehabilitation

Updated on November 10, 2016

Immediate Treatment for Strokes

Getting immediate treatment for a stroke is essential. If you get to the hospital within 3 hours of the stroke you may be a candidate for the tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), a clot-busting drug which actually breaks up clots and helps to restore the damaged area. These drugs can only be used for the ischemic type of strokes as they would cause more bleeding with a hemorrhagic stroke. Other treatments include;

Blood thinners such a warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, and clogidogrel (Plavix) for ischemic strokes.

Medication will be given for high blood pressure and pain medicine for the headaches. In appropriate cases a special stroke team and skilled radiologist may use angiography to open the clogged artery.

For hemorrhage strokes it is often necessary to evacuate the excess blood from the brain and to repair damaged blood vessels. Surgery on the carotid artery is also quite common, which is called a carotid endarectomy. Sometimes they will do an angioplasty and place a stent in the artery but the surgery if more common.

Stroke Risk Factors

Risk Factors for Strokes as reported by Mayo Clinic:

  • Positive family history of stroke, heart attack or TIA’s
  • Being age 55 or over
  • High Blood Pressure, (a systolic over 140 m, Hg or higher and a diastolicpressureof 90 mm Hg or higher
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity (a body mass index of 30 or higher
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, a heart defect, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Previous stroke or TIA
  • High levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood
  • Use of birth control pills or other hormone therapy
  • In some cases, binge drinking or use of illicit drugs

Men and women have strokes at about the same rate, women die more often then men. Blacks are more likely to have strokes than other races.

Stroke Recovery Video

Complications of Strokes

Paralysis or loss of muscle movement typically limited to one side of the body. Physical therapy is most important to improve chances of recovery

Difficulty talking or swallowing may occur because the stroke effects the way the muscles in the mouth move making talking difficult, plus swallowing and eating may be a problem. Sometimes the stroke cause aphasia which means the person has difficulty expressing thoughts through language. This is very frustrating to the patients. Speech and language pathologists can greatly improve this disability

Memory loss or trouble understanding can be a problem and also may improve with therapy

Pain Some have pain, numbness and strange sensations in parts of their body affected by the stroke. For instances, if you have lost feeling in your left arm you may have an uncomfortable tingling sensation in that arm. You also may be very sensitive to temperature changes, especially cold. This phenomenon is called central stroke pain or central pain syndrome. Since this pain is caused by problems in the brain, there are very few medications that treat the discomfort.

Every person's stroke recovery is different. Depending on what complications you might have, the team of people to help you in your recovery could include:

Rehabilitation of Elderly Patient

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Rehabilitation Caretakers



Physical therapist

Occupational therapist

Recreationial therapist

Speech therapist

Social worker

Psychologist or psychiatrist


The goal for rehabilitation is to recover as much of the patient's independence and functioning as possible. Much of stroke rehabilitation involves relearning skills you may have lost, such as walking or communicating

Recovering from a stroke can be mentally exhausting. In addition to the various physical side effects, feelings of helplessness, frustration, depression and apathy aren't unusual. Diminished sex drive and mood changes also are common. Patients that go home to a healthy spouse or other companion are more likely to become independent. Patients require a lot of emotional support as their lives are usually forever changed. They have to learn to live within the limits of their abilities, and this is very difficult for some people to accept. It really depends on the individual and the degree of complications. Often they are very emotional, as suddenly they can’t work anymore, or maybe they can’t walk at all. Living with disabilities isn’t easy when it changes your whole lifestyle.

If someone close to you has had a stroke give emotional support by staying in touch, keep your conversation at an adult level because you want to treat them the same way as you did before they had the stroke. Use your normal tone of voice, speaking at a comfortable pace allowing time for your words to be processed. Reduce distractions and talk one-on-one as the stroke survivor may understand you better than they might in a group of people. Always keep caregivers in mind as they need support and friendship as well. Although stroke disabilities may be permanent, many live an active full life.

Nursing Care

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Prevention of Strokes

Controlling high blood pressure is essential. Take you prescribed medicine. It is good to have a blood pressure machine and write down your blood pressure each day.

Lower your cholesterol and saturated fat intake. This will help reduce the fat deposits in your arteries. Many patients are placed on cholesterol lowering medicine.

Don’t smoke.

If you have diabetes, it is essential to keep it in control by following the appropriated diet, checking your blood sugar level and taking your prescribed medicine.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being obese causes many other risk factors to get out of control.

Exercise regularly to the best of your capabilities. Aerobic exercise is wonderful to reduce your risk factors. It will increase your good cholesterol also.

Manage stress. Stress can cause a temporary hike in your blood pressure and increase the tendency for blood clots. Use relaxation techniques and simplify your life as much as possible.

Drink alcohol in moderation if at all. Alcohol can be a risk factor and also a preventive measure for strokes. Binge drinking obviously isn’t healthy. On the other hand, drinking a small to moderate amount can increase your HDL (good cholesterol), and decrease your blood clotting tendencies and it is also relaxing.

Don’t use illicit drugs, particularly cocaine or crack cocaine as they have been linked to TIA’s and strokes.

Many people take a baby aspirin each day to prevent blood clots or if you have more extensive disease your doctor may prescribe other anti-platelet drugs.

My Husband's Stroke

My husband had a stroke at the age of 59 about 4 years ago. He was a lifetime smoker until about 3 years before the stroke. He had normal blood pressure, is not a diabetic, but he had high cholesterol and a stressful job which are all risk factors. One day he came home from work and said he was really tired and seemed a little unsteady on his feet for a few minutes, which I now know was the only TIA he ever had. He said he felt better in a few minutes and got in the shower while I finished cooking dinner. We ate, watched a little TV and went to bed.

At 1 AM I heard him call my name, and he was on the floor totally paralyzed on the left side. I called 911, made my husband as comfortable as possible and awoke up my elderly mother to let her know what happened. She lives with us and as she had one leg amputated the year before. She has a prosthesis and walks fairly well.

I quickly dressed and before the ambulance arrived my mother was fully dressed and determined to go with me. I think she is the fastest one legged woman I know! When we arrived at the hospital we found out my husband could not receive the clot buster drug because we really didn’t know what time the stroke occurred since he was asleep.

They put him on a Heparin drip (which is a strong blood thinner) and in the next 24 hours he could move his left side although it was very weak. We learned his right carotid article was almost completely blocked which caused the stroke and he eventually had the surgery.

Results Today

He can walk but he has left sided weakness particularly in his arm, plus the stroke permanently affected his balance. He has fallen numerous times, cracking his ribs on one occasion in the first year. He is much more careful and isn’t falling very often now. Rehabilitation helped tremendously. He also has some visual disturbance but that has improved over time.

He will never be able to work again and certainly didn’t plan on retiring at age 59. It has been difficult for him to accept some of his limitations and not too easy for me either. We have adjusted as well as we can and live each day to the best of our ability. After all, his limitations could have been much worse and we’re grateful that we have become comfortable with life as it is. Trusting God and acceptance is the key to living a peaceful life.


In conclusion, the obvious best thing to do is to prevent a stroke. The prevention methods listed will also help prevent diabetes and heart disease. Remember the signs of a stroke as you may be with a friend or loved one when a stroke happens.

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby


Submit a Comment

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    I know you are frustrated/ Who wouldn't be? I know there are some some good people in the world, but sometimes it seems when you need them the most, they can't be found. It certainly causes you to lose trust in your fellow man. Your intentions were good, but I guess the lesson learned is to not pay anyone any money until we have the final goods in our hands. Sad state of affairs! I hope things begin to improve for you very soon..

  • colinberry1 profile image

    colinberry1 3 years ago from London

    I live on a land called, rip-off Britain, the last thing I need is another battle, everything about this society is a show and you would spend the rest of your life fighting the corruption.

    I'm sure you realise I have quite enough on my plate, even though my situation is destroying me it is still better than having to face all that nightmare on top of the one I have already got.

    We have something over here called, streetlife, Mary desperately needed some new skirts, so I thought this would be ideal being local to get some advise and help, but how wrong I am, the lady who came round sounded extremely genuine, offered to help I do not want her to use any of her own money trying to do us a favour, so I said let me give you the money for the skirts, they needed some adjustments I said I would pay her for that when she brings me the skirts, need I say I never saw her again, and just do not have the time to go chasing after her.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Colin, I sure wish you had some outside help come in your home. Not necessarily a relative, but maybe someone with some medical training. I know that is easier said than done. I hope somehow your burden get lighter as you are in a very difficult position right now, I wish I has some better suggestions for you. I will keep you in my prayers Colin.

  • colinberry1 profile image

    colinberry1 3 years ago from London

    Pamela my two sons do what they can to help, nevertheless it is still extremely hectic trying to cope, sometimes with my stroke I feel as if I cannot breed trying to wrestle my wife in the toilet trying to get her changed, my left side of my body feels as if it's a block of wood, the consultants in hospital asked me how I felt, I told them it feels as if one half of my body has rigor mortis and I am trying my best to bring it alive, in my favour, my muscles are still extremely strong and managing to cope, but the feelings are extremely awful.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Colin, I am so sorry to hear that. It would be nice if you had some extended family to help, or even if there were an organization that would send someone in occasionally to give you some relief. If you continue to neglect yourself, you may pay the price physically, which is just a sad fact of life.

    I'm sorry I was so slow to respond to your comment. My computer was down and I ended up buying a new one. I hope things improve for you.

  • colinberry1 profile image

    colinberry1 3 years ago from London

    Pamela, the full story is that I am a 24 seven carer for my wife who had a brain injury at Costco’s, it's an extremely Long story and heartbreaking, I have to neglect my own physiotherapy too enable me to still care for her, it is an extremely hard struggle trying to cope but there is no other alternative.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Colin, I am sorry to hear that. My husband had a stroke at 59 years old. He was initially paralyzed on the left, but it have been 8 years now. He walks, but he still has balance problems. I wish you the best and hope you have gotten some good therapy.

  • colinberry1 profile image

    colinberry1 3 years ago from London

    I wish I came across this before I had my stroke in November, would have been extremely helpful. I left it for a day before I decided to get any help.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Chiropractor, I enjoy writing articles about health problems and plan to do some more, although I'm not sure how soon as I will probably write some for the Hub contest starting Tues. Thank you so much for your comment.

  • profile image

    chiropractor lawrenceville ga 7 years ago

    Excellent topics, I really like this topics. Can you please publish more articles? After long searching I found this online that, the best chiropractic clinic helps people in Lawrenceville GA with back pain, neck pain, headaches. Call their office and speak to any one of their friendly staff to make an appointment for a FREE consultation.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Money Glitch, Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Money Glitch profile image

    Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

    Wow Pam, Great to hear that your husband survived this ordeal. You have provided a lot of useful information here and given yet another reason for people to stop smoking. Hopefully, it will prevent someone else from having to endure what you and your husband has been through. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Miata, Thank you for stopping by to say hello and read my hub. I appreciate your comments.

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

    Hi Pam, how are you doing? Great information and I rated it up, this is a serious concern for everybody. Maita

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Habee, Thanks so much for your comments.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

    Excellent information here that just might save a few lives! Kudos!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Nancy, I'm glad you found this article helpful. When I taught cardiac rehabilitation as an RN we had a heart attack survivor who I think was 28 which was the youngest patient I had seen at that point. She was trim and active, but she smoked and took birth control pills, plus she had a strong family history for heart disease. I guess the bottom line is look as all your risk factors and fix the things that you can, like exercise. Thanks for your comment.

  • nancy_30 profile image

    nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

    Thank you for this additional information on strokes. I never knew that birth control was a risk factor.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Carolina, Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to hear about your brother and hope he can make a full recovery. He is so young. Since strokes may run in your family it might be good for you to get a carotid doppler scan if you have never had one. They don't hurt a bit and only take a few minutes.

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I'm sorry about your husbands stroke.. my brother just had one in November, and he's not fully recovered yet- and he was only 45.

    Very important post!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Darlene, I am glad you found this hub helpful and you know if you need to make some changes in your daily life to reduce your chances of ever getting a stroke. Thanks for your comments.

    HealthyHannah, Thanks so much for your comments and I'm glad that you know the risk factors for stroke now.

  • HealthyHanna profile image

    HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah

    A great follow-up. Stroke is such a terrible thing and misunderstood with most of us. And it is one of the top killers. Most of us don't really know the symptoms or the risk factors.

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    Gosh Pamela, this is an excellent hub, and I learned so much from it. I fit right in on many of the danger areas to look for. Thanks for sharing this information and your wise advise, thumbs up, you fan

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Suny, I hope you are getting regular carotid doppler scans and keep your cholesterol as low as possible. Thanks for your comment.

    Support Med, Thank you so much for your kind remarks. I am close to all my family and they are a great support. Thank you for your blessing.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

    Pamela99: Great, educational and empathetic article. Cheers to your mom! Being a nurse, your husband is fortunate to have you, yet, I give you praises and encouragement for being a caregiver who also deals with your own health issues (lupus). Thumbs up to your husband as well, for being more careful. You are an inspiration, and a demonstration of strength. It is good to know that you maintain your trust in God, and it is upon him you can call on and talk to when you need to be encouraged, as well as family (you all seem close), and friends. May you continue to experience the blessed presence of God in your lives.

  • suny51 profile image

    suny51 7 years ago

    hi Pamela, I am a little bit scared now as i had a mild one my self some 2 years before,but i would be more cautious now .Thanks

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Shaz, Thank you so much for your comment. I think my husband could improve more also, but he is not very willing to try new things right now. I'm trying to encourage him to get moving around more as even that would help.

    Cybersupe, I am glad you enjoyed the article and thank you for your comment.

    Hello, Thank your comments and your good wishes for my husband. I know there are many people worse off than us.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for a very informative hub and sharing you own family problems with us. I wish you and your husband all very best from the bottom of my heart. You certainly have your fair share of bad luck.

  • CYBERSUPE profile image


    Thanks Pamela99, my age and hypertension puts me on notice. Your article was very informative. I have heard of TPA, but was not aware of the time limit.

  • shazwellyn profile image

    shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

    Pamela... lots of people can make a full recovery and it sounds like your husband got most of the way there. Dont give up on the therapy as it is possible to create pathways around the damaged area of the brain which can compensate. Through your methods, I believe, things can improve and you can both have a good quality of life.

    I am thinking of you and admire your strength of character:)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Katiem, Thanks for your comments. I hope your uncle is doing well.

    Quill, Thanks for your comments God Bless.

  • profile image

    "Quill" 7 years ago

    Well done and well presented a blessed read on what to expect and watch for.


  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

    Pamela, WOW such an impressive review of get immediate treatment for a stroke and beautifully designed. My uncle just had a stroke and I had a lot of questions I didn't really get good answers for. This is a blessing, thanks for the stroke information. Peace :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Sheila, Thank you so much for your comments. There is help if you seek it quickly.

  • sheila b. profile image

    sheila b. 7 years ago

    It sounds as though the medical profession has made great strides in the treatment of strokes. My experience of knowing someone who had had a stroke and survived it, about 30 years ago, left me thinking I'd rather not survive one. This has been so educational to read, I really appreciate it.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Rhyclak, Thanks for your comment.

  • rkhyclak profile image

    rkhyclak 7 years ago from Ohio

    Great follow up to part 1! Thanks for another great one Pamela!