The modern treatment of strokes
The causes of strokes
There are three big risk factors that can lead to a stroke. They are high blood pressure, smoking, and high LDL cholesterol. High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for a stroke because it can weaken the blood vessels. If the plaque in an artery ruptures, it creates a blood clot at that point. If that blood clot occurs in the brain a stroke is the result.
The number two risk factor for strokes is smoking,because it doubles your chance for a stroke. There are three reasons for this. The first is because the nicotine in tobacco increases your blood pressure.
The second is because nicotine causes increased blood clotting in the arteries, and third nicotine also weakens the lining of your blood vessels causing plaque buildup. When the plaque ruptures it causes blood clots, and If this occurs In the brain it causes a stroke.
The third major risk factor for strokes is high LDL cholesterol. Excess cholesterol can cause plaque buildup in your arteries, and when this plaque ruptures in the brain it causes an ischemic stroke
I now know that my first stroke was caused by extremely high blood pressure. It was about 240/110 which made me a walking time bomb for a stroke. I have managed since then to get my blood pressure back down to normal with medication.
Smoking wasn't a factor in my stroke and I don't believe high cholesterol was either. The problem was because I didn't have health insurance I didn't realize my blood pressure was that high, and I wouldn't have been able to treat it with medication even if I did know.
These are the three largest risk factors for strokes for very obvious reasons. They are all tied to blood clotting, which causes ischemic strokes when it clots in the brain, or in either cartoid artery in the neck. When it clots in either cartoid artery it causes a very serious stroke, which will very likely result in death. The reason is because it cuts off blood flow to that side of the brain. This is what caused my wifes death. Next we will look at the initial treatment for a stroke .
Fast treatment of a stroke
Immediate treatment for a stroke
The first treatment for a stroke if you catch it within three hours is a shot to restore the blood supply to the brain. Failing this they try to lower the blood pressure, if it is high.
In my case I walked into the local emergency room after a friend noticed I was slightly dragging my right foot. The nurse observed my extremely high blood pressure and they then spent the next ten hours trying to lower it.
Then I was transferred to Sunrise hospital in Las vegas. I spent the next three to four weeks there to get setup on medication and to do some initial physical therapy.
Then I was transferred back to the Kingman hospital for the main part of my physical therapy.This is the standard initial treatment for a person who has had a stroke.
The faster that they can get the patient onto physical therapy the better their chances for a good recovery. Next we will look at what goes on with this physical therapy
getting rehab after a stroke
This is where the real recovery from a stroke starts, and the real recovery from a stroke is worked out. The usual time for this rehabilitation therapy is two to three weeks. You will be spending about three hours a day doing different physical therapy exercises.
If the fingers on your weak hand don't move, this is where they will get them working. When you are in this program, don't get in a hurry. Let the therapists do their job, and build your muscle control and use back to where they can get them.
They will let you know when they have achieved the best short term results they can get. When they have done everything they can then the responsibility transfers to you. In the next section we will look at what you can do after the initial rehabilitation.
Post rehabilitation improvement from a stroke
When you come home from rehabilitation that is when the real long term rehabilitation work starts. The rehab unit does the best short term job they can do, however the nerve control over muscles comes back slowly, if at all.
I had my first stroke six years ago and I am still working on strengthening my body, especially on the weak side. The real problem I incurred happened about a year after my first stroke. I thought I was in a lot better shape than I really was. I had learned to walk without a cane and could walk about a mile at a time. The biggest problem that I had was the decent use of my weak arm.
I decided that I would help a friend of mine take out some glue down carpet from a store. I over did my part and it caused a second stroke. Each stroke weakens you more than the last one, and is harder to recover from.
Now five years later I am still working to recover from the second stroke, which is much harder to do. However it is still possible as I have proved by writing articles. I do all of my typing with my left hand and have learned to do a pretty decent job.
Next I want to look at a series of exercises you can do to both strengthen and improve your nerve control over your weak side. The main thing to remember is that you can't do any real strenous work after having a stroke. Also you need to understand that you will lose your driving license when you have a stroke. Now lets look at the exercises you can do after you get out of rehab.
Post rehab exercises
The post rehab time period is where most of your recovery will be realized and it will take a much longer period of time. If you live in a town with paved sidewalks and a swimming pool the job will be a lot easier. The first part we will look at is getting your weak leg to work better. We will assume that you have a paved sidewalk to practice on.
The first thing you need to do is get your balance back. You can practice this inside the house. They will probably send you home with a walker, and you need to learn to walk around the house on smooth floors without it. If you really try you can get used to doing this within a couple weeks.
Then you need to go to places like walmart with smooth tile floors and practice walking, pushing a shopping cart. This will build up strength in your legs and in your body core. The shopping cart supplies all the help you need in standing up and the size of a store like Walmart gives you plenty of room to walk, After about a half dozen times at Walmart you will be ready to start practicing on a level sidewalk.
When you go walking on the sidewalk, you will need a cane that can stand by itself. This you can get at Walmart for less than twenty dollars. When you walk on the sidewalk, you have to do it in a certain way. You will walk slowly, because you need to practice lifting your weak leg with each step.
The next part of your rehab is to practice walking in waist deep water. The water takes away a lot of your weight and allows you to lift your weakened leg higher even with weaker muscles. The idea is to get away from dragging your weak leg or swinging this leg from the hip. It is possible as I have seen patients develop their muscles and nerves enough to walk in a normal appearing fashion.
The next area to consider is the weakened arm. Here you are looking for the flexibility that you had with the arm before. One of the first things you want to do when you come home from the hospital, is to have someone go out and buy a can of silly putty. This you will use for squeezing with your weak hand. You will do this for long periods of time until you get the flexibility in your weak hand that you have in your good hand.
This is essential for you to resume an ordinary way of life. The thing you need to understand is that the muscles you use in your weak arm or leg are still there and ready for use.
It is the electrical nerve impulses from the brain that have been weakened or destroyed. You need to work with the injured part until you force these electrical impulses to become stronger again. Once you get the flexibility back in your fingers again you need to build their strength up and then start working on your weakened arm.
The thing to remember through all this is your brain is plastic enough so that it can shift use from a damaged section to another area of the brain that is still good. You can even come back from a moderate stroke, it is just a lot of hard work.
Recovering from a stroke is possible, it is just a lot of hard work. You can expect to spend at least a year in this recovery phase. The amount of time it takes depends on how dedicated you are to your complete recovery. The hours you will have to spend each day on rehab exercises get boring long before your recovery is complete.
Do not try to take up large amounts of your time with other types of projects. This will only get you use to living with your disability, instead of building your body back to as normal as possible. The rehab work is hard and tedious, but the results are worth all the work and time.