Doctors: Stroke treatment and rehab is a marathon, not a sprint
Updated: 05/29/2012 12:25 PM
By: Claudine Chalfant
Strokes affect more than 795,000 Americans every year. On average, a stroke happens every 40 seconds.
Putting one foot in front of the other can be daunting for many stroke patients. Something learned decades upon decades ago, a skill possibly taken for granted, must be relearned as stroke patients strive to retrain the brain.
"What we do is work to recruiting brain cells that did survive the injury to volunteer to take over the job of the guys who die," said Dr. Vu Nguyen from the Stroke Rehabilitation Program at Carolinas Rehabilitation.
The National Stroke Association reports the signs include: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, trouble seeing or walking, loss of balance or severe headache with no known cause.
There are two kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Patients recover from both, but the key is getting treated as soon as possible.
"If people spend even two hours at home waiting for the symptoms to go away then we are really losing time in our treatment window," said Dr. Jodi Dodds, the medical director for the Presbyterian Neuroscience Institute.
Eric Anderson started rehab after his stroke one year ago. The episode stopped Anderson dead in his tracks at age 39. Within hours, Dodds said he would die if he didn't immediately have surgery.
Twelve months later, Anderson's determination, deep faith and drive delivered him to a new level of "normal."
Rehab is a slow process but speed isn't the main focus.
"We want to have the patients understand that this is a marathon," said Nguyen. "It's not a 100 yard dash."
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