For some stroke survivors, mirror therapy appears to be a promising and effective option for reestablishing control over wayward limbs. Mirror therapy requires very little training, is easy to set up, inexpensive and is not taxing on the patient. A mirror is arranged to reflect the “good” limb. When the “good” limb is moved, the mirror gives the illusion that the “bad” limb is the one moving. This reflection is perceived by the brain to be the accurate movement. It is thought to reorganize the way the brain is wired and can stimulate the brain to help with movement control. Incorporating mirror therapy into the conventional rehabilitation program can have a positive impact on a person’s ability to perform self-care routines, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and self-feeding.
A seizure occurs when a particular area of the brain fires spontaneously without voluntary control. It can result in an unexpected sensation (visual image, smell, sound, feeling or taste), motor activity (head, eyes, or limb shaking), and/or change in alertness, ability to speak or understand. Seizures are not uncommon after strokes. Multiple studies have reported approximately 10% of all ischemic stroke survivors suffer at least one seizure by the 5th year after their stroke. The risk for hemorrhagic strokes was higher, as approximately 27% of patients with intracerebral hemorrhage and 34% of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage suffered at least one seizure during the same time period.
The most common seizures resulting from strokes are those that occur weeks or months after the initial event. When a region of brain tissue dies during a stroke, it begins to degenerate into scar tissue after a few weeks. The presence of this scar tissue acts a provocative irritant to the normal neurons adjacent to it, precipitation a seizure months or even years later. If you or someone you know have been experiencing seizures after a stroke, ask your primary care provider about an epileptologist in your area, a neurologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of seizures.
If you would like to read a personal article about the signs of seizure, please refer to http://www.everydayhealth.com/blogs/survivingastroke/seizures-affect-stroke-recovery
Just-released research from a large national study observed a frightening trend: Rates of stroke in women during pregnancy or soon after giving birth have jumped 54 percent in a dozen years.
The rate of stroke climbed about 47 percent in women before giving birth and about 83 percent in new moms in the postpartum period, 12 weeks after giving birth. The risk of stroke rises in pregnancy in part because of a higher volume of blood, but also because of increased risk of high blood pressure, blood clots and migraine headaches. Dramatic fluctuations in hormones and blood pressure in the weeks after giving birth may increase risk during that time, doctors say.
That’s a troubling rise, even for a condition that remains rare, said Dr. Elena V. Kuklina, the study’s lead author, stroke expert and epidemiologist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, strokes were detected in about 71 of every 100,000 delivery hospitalizations by the end of the study period.
Almost all of the increase in strokes during or soon after pregnancy was explained by higher prevalence of high blood pressure and heart disease during pregnancy, said Kuklina. That’s a worrisome trend in a nation where roughly one in five women is obese when she becomes pregnant, a risk factor for both conditions.
If you would like to read more of the personal stories related to this article, please go to this link: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43918460/ns/today-today_health/t/strokes-spike-pregnant-women-new-moms/
A naturally occurring substance shrank the size of stroke-induced lesions in the brains of experimental mice — even when administered as much as 12 hours after the event, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have shown. The substance, alpha-B-crystallin (a major structural protein that is constantly created in the heart and other tissues, including the brain), acts as a brake on the immune system, lowering levels of inflammatory molecules whose actions are responsible for substantial brain damage above and beyond that caused by the initial oxygen deprivation of a stroke.
The finding, which will be published online today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is of great potential significance. Every year brings nearly 800,000 new stroke patients in North America. “That’s one every 40 seconds,” said Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, director of Stanford’s Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences and one of the study’s two senior authors.
The largest single cause of severe neurological disability and the third-leading cause of death in the United States, stroke accounts for an estimated $74 billion annually in related costs, including treatment and additional assistance for the three of every four stroke patients whose ability to perform the activities of daily life is impaired. Strokes are caused by a sudden drop in the flow of blood to the brain resulting from a clot or, less often, bleeding. One of every three stroke patients is under the age of 65. In all, there are 5.4 million stroke survivors in the United States and 15 million worldwide.
The only currently approved drug for stroke — tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA — dissolves clots that keep oxygenated blood from reaching brain tissue. To be effective, tPA must be administered within about 4.5 hours after the stroke. But patients’ brains must first be scanned to rule out the possibility that the stroke was caused by bleeding, which tPA would exacerbate, rather than by blockage
Alpha-B-crystallin appears to act as a sponge, sopping up those bad actors and stopping inflammation from making a bad situation worse. Growing evidence suggests that alpha-B-crystallin can help curb inflammatory activity in the brain.
Emotional distress, especially anxiety, frustration, and depression are common problems after stroke regardless of the age it occurs. Many who experience this have no prior history of depression, and experts are still unsure if it is caused by biological factors provoked by the brain injury or if it is a secondary psychological response to the physical, cognitive, and social impairments produced by the stroke. The first thing that a caregiver or a family member can do is make sure that the stroke victim sees a professional for evaluation and potential treatment for depression. The important thing to remember is that depression is a common and understandable response to the loss and impairment that is produced by the stroke. Taking care of a loved one who has had a stroke can be difficult, so seek professional psychological aid and stay hopeful!
Although stroke is far more common among older adults than among young people, stroke can occur at all ages. The rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure in young adults could be to blame for the growing trend of stroke under age 50. Although ischemic stroke makes up nearly 85% of all strokes, intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhages are more common in young adults.
An intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when a diseased blood vessel within the brain bursts, allowing blood to leak inside the brain. The sudden increase in pressure within the brain can cause damage to the brain cells surrounding the blood. The most common cause of this type of hemorrhage is high blood pressure (hypertension). Because high blood pressure by itself often causes no symptoms, many people who experience this are not aware they even have high blood pressure, or that it needs to be treated. Signs include an intense headache and loss of consciousness.
A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel just outside the brain ruptures. The area of the skull surrounding the brain (the subarachnoid space) rapidly fills with blood. This hemorrhage is most often caused by abnormalities of the arteries at the base of the brain, called cerebral aneurysms. These are small areas of rounded or irregular swellings in the arteries. Where the swelling is most severe, the blood vessel wall becomes weak and prone to rupture. The signs of subarachnoid hemorrhages include sudden, intense headaches, neck pain, and nausea or vomiting. Sometimes this is described as the worst headache of one’s life. The sudden buildup of pressure outside the brain may also cause rapid loss of consciousness.